Musical chairs: Deadline looms for government to fill more than 80 health board roles

The clock is ticking on the appointment of 86 positions on the boards responsible for overseeing the performance and delivery of Queensland’s health system and services.

Jan 25, 2024, updated Jan 25, 2024
Health Minister Shannon Fentiman in question time Queensland Parliament House. (AAP Image/Darren England)

Health Minister Shannon Fentiman in question time Queensland Parliament House. (AAP Image/Darren England)

Almost half of the positions on Queensland’s sixteen Hospital and Health Boards responsible for ensuring the performance and delivery of the state’s health system, are set to expire by March 31. InQueensland can reveal the 86 of 176 positions of board members and chairs are up for re-appointment or new appointment.

The State Government launched recruitment for the positions in September last year. Thirteen of the 16 positions for board chairs are due to expire by March 31. The positions can be filled through renewal for current chairs who re-apply as well as new appointments.

Government sources have told InQueensland up to four different chairs on boards in the southeast corner of the state have notified the government they will not be continuing in their role.

Queensland Hospital and Health Boards (HHBs) are responsible for local performance and delivery of their health services within their communities.

The boards’ chairs directly report to the Minister for Health, Mental Health and Ambulance Services.

One source told InQueensland there has not been this many board positions set to expire all at once in several years, particularly not ahead of a State Government election in October.

A government spokesperson confirmed the numbers of board member and chair positions which will expire by March 31, including 73 board member positions.

“This is because appointment terms for all 16 HHBs are currently aligned to even years, in order to minimise disruptions when recruitment and selection processes are inevitably required.

“The 31 March deadline is to ensure HHB memberships are settled well before the end of financial year.

“It is not unusual to have large numbers of vacancies and appointees during major recruitment processes, such as in this case,’’ the spokesperson said in statement on behalf of Queensland Health Minister Shannon Fentiman and Queensland Health.

The spokesperson said some existing board members and chairs had reapplied for their positions.

“The Minister takes into consideration the experience that existing members bring to the boards and the service they have provided and the importance of continuity.

“These hardworking and passionate chairs and members have proven themselves to be leaders in their communities, and their re-appointment will ensure we can continue delivering world-class healthcare while also welcoming new HHB appointments,’’ the spokesperson said.

Current members can apply for appointment for further terms or apply to be board chair, the spokesperson said.

The Queensland Hospital and Health Boards Act does not limit the number of times a person may be reappointed to a board.

Both board chair and members are political appointments made ultimately on the recommendations of the Queensland Health Minister to Governor in Council.

The Governor in Council has final approval, by gazette notice.

Government sources said there were concerns the “immensely powerful” chair positions may not be filled before the March 31 deadline as candidates may be concerned about job security in an election year.

However under provisions in the HHB Act, both  board chair and members positions cannot be removed because of a change government.

Government sources described the appointment process as piecing together a “huge jigsaw” to identify and ensure each of the boards needs match those of their region.

The spokesperson said the board appointment terms are staggered to ensure business continuity and succession planning where there is continuing memberships across all 16 boards.

In situations where the positions are not renewed, the Minister’s expectation is outgoing members would provide an appropriate level of handover information to support their successors, the spokesperson said.

“We have received many applications from well-qualified individuals, coming from a range of backgrounds and perspectives,’’ the spokesperson said.

The government did also not answer InQueensland’s questions as to whether it had more difficulty filling positions for the regional boards and it was confident all vacancies would be filled by the March 31 deadline.

It is understood several applications have been received from a cross-section of applications for regional board positions.

The spokesperson said expressions of interest for the HBB positions have been promoted across a broad range of communities and organisations to capture suitably qualified candidates.



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