Former LGH head of surgery Brian Kirkby claiming $4 million from state

Brian Kirkby
Brian Kirkby

Former Launceston surgeon Brian Kirkby is suing the state government for more than $4 million, claiming loss of future income.

Mr Kirkby was Launceston General Hospital director of surgery until January 31, earning more than $700,000 a year.

In a claim filed with the Launceston Supreme Court on Monday, Mr Kirkby said he took up a lower paid position in Queensland because his role at the LGH changed significantly, breaching his employment contract.

At 48, Mr Kirkby is claiming he would have expected to work for the next 19 years at the LGH. The loss of income was therefore calculated as the difference between his annual salary at the LGH, compared to his $427,280 remuneration package at the Queensland hospital – totalling $4,044,658.44 after subtracting 25 per cent for contingencies.

He is also claiming unpaid time off in lieu of $19,948.96 and underpaid pay rate increases of $55,302.49.

Mr Kirkby moved to Queensland in early February where he is now working as director of surgery at a hospital in Caboolture.

He told The Examiner earlier this month his role at the LGH essentially “disappeared” under the THS structure.

When those claims first came to light, Health Minister Michael Ferguson disputed them.

However, a government spokeswoman said last week, “as [Mr] Kirkby has indicated he is taking legal action, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time”.

The statement of claim alleged the state breached Mr Kirkby’s contract due to a number of changes to his role between July 2015 and December 2017. 

It said the actions of the THS, in making “unilateral changes” to Mr Kirkby’s role, caused the breach.

In a letter dated December 1, 2017, Mr Kirkby informed the THS he accepted his employment contract had been breached.

“THS in communications and correspondence with Mr Kirkby since 1 December, 2017, has failed or refused to address in any serious or timely manner the resolution of issue with him,” the claim said.

“By reason of the repudiation of the contract and its acceptance, the contract is terminated; Mr Kirkby is constructively dismissed; and the dismissal was wrongful and in breach of the contract.”

The defendant – in this case, the state – has seven days from the claim being filed to file its notice of appearance.