Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre chair quits after private beds dispute

The chair of Melbourne’s Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre has quit suddenly after a war of words with the Victorian Government over private beds at a new cancer hospital.

Wendy Harris QC tendered her resignation from the board of the centre at a meeting with Health Minister Jill Hennessy on Friday afternoon.

Ms Harris had been critical of the Government’s decision to prevent the organisation from including 42 private hospital beds at the new Comprehensive Cancer Centre in Parkville.

Peter MacCallum is a key partner in the new $1 billion hospital, which is currently under construction.

Ms Harris said the move jeopardised $20 million in philanthropic donations to the organisation and was reportedly “considering her position” after the decision.

The plan to include the private beds was endorsed by the former state government last year but was overturned after the state election.

The Government said the hospital will only have public hospital beds.

It is understood some of Peter MacCallum’s board members were not happy with the strong public criticisms made by Ms Harris.

Health Minister Jill Hennessy paid tribute to Ms Harris.

“It was a decision made by Ms Harris,” she said.

“I have accepted Ms Harris’ resignation and thanked her for her service.”

Current Peter MacCallum board member Suzanne Ewart will act as chair until a permanent replacement is appointed.