Corruption watchdog to probe whistleblowers’ claims 

Shannon Fentiman MP (left) at a rally in January, 2022 (Photo: Shannon Fentiman MP/Facebook)

Claims whistleblowers were targeted for speaking out about a remote tuberculosis unit’s patient care have been referred to Queensland’s corruption watchdog. 

Queensland Health Minister Shannon Fentiman on Thursday said allegations made by two senior staff members at the Torres Strait unit in the state’s far north were “serious and concerning”. 

The pair reportedly claimed seriously sick Papua New Guinea TB patients were being sent home by the Thursday Island unit instead of being considered for treatment at Queensland’s health facilities. 

The duo faced reprisals from Queensland Health after “exposing” the treatment, the ABC said. 

The two staff members reportedly made complaints to the Crime and Corruption Commission in 2023, seeking protection as official whistleblowers. One later resigned. 

The ABC said Dr Emma McBryde, an infectious disease expert, and the unit’s former head nurse had made the complaints to the commission. 

Fentiman said it was concerning to hear claims about staff being targeted after coming forward and advocating for improvements. 

“These allegations are so serious, when they came to my attention I’ve immediately referred them to the (commission) for investigation,” she said on Thursday. 

“If it is the case that these staff faced reprisal action, that is incredibly serious and concerning and that’s why I think it’s best the (commission) investigates these matters.” 

The Thursday Island unit also reportedly lost medical files and used systems potentially compromising patient care. 

Fentiman said she had sought further information from the Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service when the matter was initially brought before the commission by the complainants. 

“I sought further information from the Torres and Cape HHS and the information received I thought warranted further investigation by the (commission),” she said. 

“I’ve now referred all of the material to the (commission) for further investigation,” she said