Department appoints acting Deputy Secretary

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Penny Shakespeare will step in as acting Deputy Secretary of the Department of Health's Health Benefits area following the retirement of Andrew Stuart.

Ms Shakespeare, who is currently First Assistant Secretary of the Technology, Assessment and Access' division, formerly known as the Pharmaceutical Benefits Division, will have the added responsibilities of Medical Benefits and Provider Benefits Integrity.

Ms Shakespeare's areas are responsible for the PBS, private health, Medicare, diagnostic imaging and pathology.

The policy areas, amongst the most controversial and difficult to manage in the health portfolio, are currently dealing with implementation of recently agreed PBS reforms, an ongoing review of the Medicare Benefits Schedule, the recently reformed Prostheses List Advisory Committee and a ministerial advisory committee on private health, as well as bedding down a difficult policy backdown in pathology and an ongoing dispute over diagnostic imaging.

As First Assistant Secretary of the Technology, Assessment and Access division, Ms Shakespeare has been working to implement a recent restructure that saw the combination of areas responsible for the PBS and private health.

Branches previously focussed on pharmaceutical policy, evaluation and pharmacy, now incorporate significant areas related to private health insurance and even Medicare, including prostheses, premiums and administration of the Medical Services Advisory Committee.

The restructure also included the creation of the Office of Health Technology Assessment.

Ms Shakespeare will report to Mark Cormack, who will be acting Secretary from tomorrow. The Department has announced several officials will act in her First Assistant Secretary Role, starting with Julianne Quaine, who will act in the role before taking leave in September, and be followed by Louise Clarke.