Health Minister Sarah Courtney cannot explain why a formal investigation into serious child sex abuse allegations at the Launceston General Hospital was not launched for more than a year after claims were first made.
Shadow Health Minister Sarah Lovell said the Minister put all of her efforts into dodging questions at today’s Estimates hearing, highlighting her firm commitment to secrecy at all costs.
Ms Lovell said the Health Minister had admitted she was first informed of the allegations against former nurse James Griffin in July 2019 but an independent inquiry was not launched until October this year.
Additionally, Ms Courtney had today confirmed inquiries made during so-called “open disclosure” in the 12 months since the initial claims, had focused on three alleged victims rather than be broadened to request former patients and their families come forward.
“It’s not good enough that Ms Courtney failed to act and now cannot explain why she failed to act,” Ms Lovell said.
“The Minister relied on verbal briefings from her department, when she should have ordered a wide-ranging investigation to identify potential victims and offer them, their families and LGH staff support.
“It’s becoming increasingly clear that the government and Ms Courtney’s clear focus was on secrecy and even though she claims she followed advice and undertook an open disclosure process, that should not have prevented her from reaching out to the wider community so that people might have been allowed to come forward.
“She cannot – or refuses to – explain her actions. Keeping as quiet as possible appears to have been the priority and it’s clear Ms Courtney was forced to act only when the full story of these horrific allegations became public.”
Sarah Lovell MLC
Shadow Minister for Health