Page 589 - Week 02 - Thursday, 24 March 2022

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When the number of cases increased very rapidly, they were no longer able to undertake that kind of case investigation. There was a switch over to that vaccination status data for people who were in hospital being collected through the hospitals themselves and reported through the Clinical Health Emergency Coordination Centre to the Health Emergency Control Centre. There have also been issues around being able to match that self-reported vaccination status data up with the Australian Immunisation Register data to verify that vaccination status.

All of that changeover and the process of implementing some more automation was occurring during that January period, so I think that contributed to some of the delays in being able to gather all of that data. But, as I indicated yesterday, that data was in fact provided to the journalist. It was indeed available. The final version that I tabled yesterday afternoon indicated that, of the 22 ICU patients—this is what was asked for—15 were fully vaccinated, including three that had received a booster dose, and seven were unvaccinated.

MS CASTLEY: Why was a COVID patient who died in hospital recorded as recovered?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I think that speaks to some of the changeovers in systems that were occurring. There was a bit of an automatic process of recording people as being recovered after a period of time. We had switched to that process of recording people as being recovered. I understand that there was a data-matching issue with the unfortunate, sad passing of that individual.

Through quality assurance processes of course that was picked up. That is why it is in the FOI, because somebody went back, had a look and said, “No, actually that is not quite right.” This is why we have quality assurance processes. These are complex systems with multiple moving parts—and a lot of cases and a lot of individuals. Fortunately, there have not been a very high number of deaths, but each one of those is of course very sad and we send our condolences to those families.

This is part of a changing and moving system through the different waves of COVID-19, but all of those systems are then underpinned by quality assurance processes where data is crosschecked and matched. Ms Castley and the chamber would be aware that there have been a number of occasions through the pandemic when numbers have been updated and refreshed as a result of those quality assurance processes, and the ACT is not alone in having that experience.

MR PARTON: What are you doing to ensure that health data is accurate and complete?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Mr Parton for the question. I think I have already gone into quite a lot of detail about the changes that were occurring through that January period. As I indicated yesterday, the cabinet gets a weekly epidemiological update report and that contains quite a significant amount of data, including vaccination data for people who are hospitalised and in intensive care. We get that data on a regular basis.

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