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Suspended QEH cardiology boss still in the dark over bullying allegations

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SA Health has declined to give suspended Queen Elizabeth Hospital head of cardiology John Horowitz any detail about the bullying allegations against him, two months after he was suspended from duty.

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Horowitz – who slammed the State Government’s Transforming Health plans for the QEH in a piece written for InDaily late last year, and was suspended for “misconduct” the following month – yesterday attended an Industrial Relations Commission mediation with SA Health.

But he says “no progress” was made during the meeting and SA Health representatives declined to disclose any detail about the allegations against him.

He said they had asked for a further six weeks to conduct an investigation into the complaint.

Horowitz has claimed it is “highly likely” his suspension was the result of his public opposition to the Government’s health reforms – but SA Health denies any link between his suspension and Transforming Health.

Acting CEO of the Central Adelaide Local Health Network Len Richards told InDaily SA Health was applying the “standard process”, which was necessary to ensure a fair outcome.

“Investigations into these allegations of misconduct from clinical colleagues are continuing as per the standard process,” Richards said in a statement.

“Investigations of this nature take time to do properly to ensure a thorough and fair outcome for all parties.”

Professor John Horowitz

Professor John Horowitz

Horowitz also claimed his continuing suspension threatens to “bankrupt” the hospital’s cardiology and pharmacology laboratories because, in his absence, no one was able to issue bills for medical tests that help fund the labs.

“If you can’t ensure a continuous income stream… the lab will be destroyed,” Horowitz told InDaily.

“Sooner or later, we’ll be in the situation of having to dismiss people… some of whom have been [employed] there for more than 20 years.

“Is there any reason related to the charge of bullying… that I shouldn’t be able to be signing bill forms? I don’t think so.”

But Richards said Horowitz’ suspension had had no adverse impact on staff or patients.

“Any claims that staff or patients are adversely impacted by the ongoing investigation are false,” he said.

“While the allegations are investigated, interim arrangements are in place at TQEH and the laboratories are continuing to operate normally.”

Horowitz was suspended less than two weeks after he had returned to work last year, following a kidney transplant.

He told InDaily none of his behaviour during his time at the hospital could be considered bullying – although he suggested it was “possible that I may have spoken to someone in a way that could be considered aggressive” because of his manner on the telephone.

“[But] I have never raised my voice… and I’ve never threatened anyone.”

Last month, more than 60 QEH staff signed a letter of support for Horowitz, accusing SA Health of a “deliberate personal attack” on the experienced clinician.

“It is with great sadness and disbelief that we heard of the manner in which SA Health has treated you,” the letter reads.

“We are unaware of the exact allegations but have no doubt that this is a deliberate personal attack on you because of the stance you have made on behalf of us and the patients of the QEH and the planned downgrade of services here.

“We are writing to you to express our collective respect and gratitude for the many years of professional and personal support to us as staff.”

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