Denis Swift is the Club’s new Treasurer. What are his qualifications for the role? They’re highly appropriate.
We know the current Secretary can’t be bothered to inform members about the people representing them, so we thought we’d help him out.
Denis Swift’s academic qualifications include a Bachelor of Business and a Master’s in Health Administration. In terms of employment, among other things, he has been a chief financial officer at Bayside Health, which included responsibility for the Alfred Hospital. So how did he get on at the Alfred Hospital?
The Alfred Hospital
In this role he attracted the attentions of Mr George Brouwer, the Victorian Ombudsman when he met Denis while investigating the dreadful state of the finances. To be fair, the main subject of the investigation was Mr. Thomas Kossmann, an Alfred Hospital surgeon. Kossmann had some quite creative views on billing the TAC and WorkSafe for his patients. Ultimately, he was paid millions of dollars for his services until other surgeons complained about his conduct as a surgeon.
The resulting hospital investigation and discussion about the failures of governance structures in the health sector attracted the Ombudsman’s attention to Denis’ role in the affair The Sydney Morning Herald, 2008 (“A man condemned”), reported that George Brouwer’s investigation found that Kossmann’s partnership with the Alfred’s chief financial officer Denis Swift, was crucial to Kossmann’s ability to maximise his private income through the TAC.
According to Mr. Brouwer, in 2002 the two of them changed Kossmann’s employment contract. The new contract gave the surgeon responsibility over his billing of public and private medical insurers. The original contract gave the hospital control over the bills. A draft memo of the revised agreement was meant to go to Bayside Health’s board for approval, but never did.
In 2004, Swift agreed to let Kossmann spend one day per week in private practice at another hospital with no change to his Alfred salary. That same year, he also allowed Kossmann to enter a highly paid arrangement with US medical implant giant Stryker, despite his contract specifically precluding such deals. The Ombudsman described Denis Swift’s actions in taking these decisions as ‘inexplicable’.
Mr Swift had left The Alfred’s employment at the time of the Ombudsman’s report. No information is available on any repercussions for him about his joint decisions with Mr Kossmann. Mr Brouwer referred some matters that he discovered to the Victoria Police.
The full report of the Ombudsman’s investigation into the systemic governance failures in more than one large health facility can be found on the internet by googling Bayside-Health-Report. It concluded that The Alfred’s oversight of Kossmann’s financial activities was ‘abysmal’. Obviously its chief financial officer must have played some kind of role in that oversight.
Mr Swift next comes to light as the Vice-President of the Heidelberg RSL in 2013. This little sub-branch had an ageing population and high costs for its pokies. They had met trouble and run up a $500,000 debt to Anzac House. According to the Heidelberg Leader (April, 2013), the old committee resigned and a new sub-committee reopened the club on March 8. The new committee’s acting vice president was Denis Swift.
The venue’s land was worth about $4 million, which might have been used as collateral for a loan, but according to Denis “The temporary Heidelberg RSL committee has no choice but to relinquish our positions effectively immediately.” And so after only a few weeks, he closed the club for the second time, this time forever.
So there you have it. A Treasurer with expertise in moving millions of dollars and who has had experience in closing down a club. Could anyone really be better qualified to be the new Treasurer at this point in the Club’s history?