Health Ombudsman to Report on Hospital Waiting Lists

By Petrina Smith
Monday, 27 October, 2014

The performance of Queensland public hospitals in reducing surgical waiting lists and treating patients on time will soon be audited and reported by the independent Health Ombudsman.

Health Minister Lawrence Springborg said the LNP Government had accepted a challenge from the Australian Medical Association to increase community oversight of Queensland Health facilities by taking control of emergency department and surgical wait list reporting away from the department.

“The LNP Government has been open and transparent about its performance and record in health and this will give the public even greater confidence in our public hospital system,” Mr Springborg said.

“In line with policy submissions from the AMAQ, control over the auditing and reporting of this key aspect of hospital performance will transfer to Queensland’s independent Health Ombudsman.

“This week, the latest quarterly report demonstrated the excellent progress Queensland Health continues to make to reduce waiting lists to the point where soon all surgery will be complete within the clinically-recommended time-frame.”

Under legislation introduced by the LNP Government, the Health Ombudsman, Mr Leon Atkinson-MacEwen, conducts, co-ordinates and reports on investigations into health complaints.

“Now he will also be able to audit and report on surgical waiting times in Queensland public hospitals as of 1 July 2015,” Mr Springborg said.

“This will deliver the guaranteed consistency and independence in wait-list reporting sought by the AMAQ in its policy submissions prior to the 2012 Queensland election."

That is exactly what this Government will do.” Mr Springborg said Queensland Health had come a long way since the days of secrecy and hidden waiting lists under the former Labor Government.

Already, numbers of reporting hospitals had increased from 27 to 61. A wider range of reported data was now provided and historical comparisons included.

“The LNP Government created the position of an independent Health Ombudsman because formal inquiries uncovered a history of serious failings in the handling of health-related complaints,” Mr Springborg said.

“Previously, 60 per cent of complaints were not being addressed in a timely or appropriate manner. “Now, each of the state’s 16 Hospital and Health Service Boards will collect uniform data for the Ombudsman to audit. The Ombudsman is empowered by his legislation to undertake inquiries and review health system activities. I have sought his acceptance of this new responsibility and he has agreed.”

The Minister said responsibility for auditing National Emergency Access Target (NEAT) and National Elective Surgery Target (NEST) reports would transfer to the Health Ombudsman on July 1, 2015 with additional areas of performance reporting to follow. Under the Commonwealth-State agreement, NEAT adjudicates on the performance of hospital EDs and NEST surgery waiting lists.

“This is another big step forward in the accountable administration of Queensland Health and the Government’s promise to deliver better patient outcomes and front-line health service,” the Health Minister said

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