IBAC: public health sector vulnerable to 'serious corruption'

By The Mandarin

October 26, 2017

Access to high value drugs, a complex and obfuscated billing system and persistent reports of staff bullying create the seeds that allow corruption to foster, says a new report from Victoria’s Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission.

In the report Corruption risks associated with the public health sector, IBAC identifies a range of serious corruption risks and vulnerabilities specific to the public health sector, as well as risks that are common to the rest of the Victorian public sector.

IBAC chief executive officer Alistair Maclean said the report covered examples of theft of controlled drugs, cover-ups of clinical malpractice and fraudulent billing practices in the Victorian public health sector.

“Theft of controlled drugs from health services, for personal use or to be sold for financial gain, is identified as a significant corruption risk, instances of which had been highlighted in recent investigations by IBAC, Victoria Police and other integrity agencies,” Maclean said.

“With intelligence from law enforcement agencies suggesting increasing demand in the community for, and misuse of, pharmaceutical prescription medications (such as fentanyl, morphine, Valium and Xanax), the access health service staff have to these drugs creates a risk of corruption, when there are inadequate processes and controls.”

Workplace bullying and harassment, such as those widely reported about the healthcare sector, can contribute to conditions where corruption is more likely to occur, the report says.

“The hierarchical nature of the medical profession together with a culture where complaints are stifled through threats of adverse consequences, increases the risk of corruption,” Maclean said.

Corruption risks and vulnerabilities identified that were common to the rest of the public sector included those associated with procurement and employment practices.

IBAC says a report into employment risks in the public sector will be released shortly.

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