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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 1 Hansard (28 February) . . Page.. 133..

Health—legal settlements

(Question No 1428)

Mr Smyth asked the Minister for Health, on 12 December 2006 (redirected to the Acting Minister for Health):

(1) What is the reason for the increase in spending on legal settlements by ACT Health from $2.9 million in 2004-05 to $3.8 million in 2005-06;

(2) What are the public details of the legal settlements that were made during 2005-06;

(3) What action is being taken by ACT Health to avoid the need for such settlements.

Mr Stanhope: The answer to the member's question is as follows:

(1) The amount for legal settlements as reported in the ACT Health 2005-06 Annual Report (Page 169) also includes legal costs for services provided by the Department of Justice and Community Safety to ACT Health, other legal costs and settlement payments.

The cost for legal services provided by the Department of Justice and Community Safety (JACS) increased from $0.750m in 2004-05 to $1.0m in 2005-06. The reason for the increase in these costs was due to increased provision of legal advice and Parliamentary drafting costs to ACT Health.

Other legal costs (excluding settlements) only increased slightly from $0.8m in 2004 05 to $0.9m in 2005-06. This category includes legal costs for Counsel, Medical Board enquiries, Administrative Appeals Tribunal matters, Disciplinary inquiries and Investigator fees.

Settlement Payments increased from $1.3m in 2004-05 to $1.8m in 2005-06. The annual expenditure in this category varies subject to the timing and type of matter being finalised, the amount of excess that applies for matters covered by the ACT Insurance Authority (the excess for medical indemnity claims increased from $10k to $50k from July 2002) and the timing of reimbursements from the ACT Insurance Authority.

(2) Of the claims settled in 2005-06 there were 21 medical indemnity claims for incidents that occurred between 1988 and 2004, 3 public liability claims for incidents that occurred in 2003 and 2004 and two property claims resulting from storm damage at The Canberra Hospital and at Calvary Hospital.

One medical indemnity matter was settled through the Supreme Court resulting from a claim where the Territory was found liable in negligence for discharging a patient with glass fragments still in his hand following an accident.

The other matters were settled out of court. Details of these matters cannot be released as they are protected by a confidentiality agreement within the Deed of Release signed at the time of settlement.

(3) ACT Health is continually working to improve the medical outcomes and safety for all its patients and has invested in clinical quality and safety functions as well as an improved reporting tool. With the establishment of the Patient Safety and Quality

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