Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 16 March 2010) . . Page.. 925 ..
consideration process. That is the first amendment. But all of the amendments go really to how the complaints handling process should be dealt with and go back to, I guess, strengthening the role of the boards, although the boards remain very strong, but reducing the role of the health complaints commissioner.
I understand this is the preferred position of the boards. I have met with all the boards as well. I have read their letters. I have listened to their arguments. But the reality for the ACT is that we have a system in place which, if we adopted the national law, would diminish the current system and the current role of the Health Services Commissioner.
This is something that other jurisdictions do not have to deal with. New South Wales does. It has chosen to deal with it in a different way. We thought we could deal with it with the role of the public interest assessor. When that role was removed, we were unable to do that and had to look for some alternative amendments. We have tried to find a situation that everybody could live with.
I accept that the Health Services Commissioner is not entirely happy, I accept that the boards are not entirely happy, I accept that the Liberals are not entirely happy, the Greens are not entirely happy, I am not entirely happy, no health minister in the country is entirely happy with the ACT in relation to this. But, to me, the system that we have tried to negotiate tries to meet halfway everybody’s needs and, indeed, the review, I think, will assist us as legislators to understand the practical reality of the complaints handling process once it is in operation. I think it is only then that we will be able to understand whether the concerns raised by the boards, or indeed the concerns raised by the Health Services Commissioner, actually come to fruition through the real application of the law once it is in place. At that point in time, all of us sitting here, trying to understand what it might be like under the new scheme, will be better educated and will understand what it has actually been like under the scheme. That work is potentially a year away, and I will make sure that we get on to that as soon as we can and that that review is provided to members as soon as it is finished.
We cannot support a position which essentially diminishes the role of the Health Services Commissioner and indeed diminishes the current complaints handling processes across the health system. In a way, I am—after the beatings I take from the opposition about complaints handling—a little, tiny, incy bit surprised that they are seeking to diminish the current complaints handling process in the health system in the way that they have with these amendments today.
MS BRESNAN (Brindabella) (5.36): As I have already stated, the Greens will not be supporting these amendments. Again, as I have outlined fairly considerably through my speeches, we do not want to see a process where we go back essentially to a system of peer review processes for health complaints. We have been able to build up a very strong system here in the ACT over a number of years. It has been recognised as being a very strong system; I think particularly by consumers it would be recognised as such. To back away from that system I think would be a great loss to the ACT and would severely reduce the sort of system we have now in the ACT.
As the bill stands, there has obviously been a lot of work put into trying to have an integrated process whereby we have the health complaints commissioner but we do