Page 1521 - Week 05 - Thursday, 11 May 2006

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change any of the other circumstances listed in the Taxation Administration Act where information can be produced. I commend the Revenue Legislation Amendment Bill 2006 to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Mulcahy) adjourned to the next sitting.

Health Legislation Amendment Bill 2006

Ms Gallagher, by leave, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Minister for Health, Minister for Disability and Community Services and Minister for Women) (10.37): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

The proposed Health Legislation Amendment Bill 2006 amends the Health Act 1993 to address a number of issues in relation to quality assurance and clinical privileges committees. In addition, the bill amends the default commencement provisions of the Health Professionals Act 2004 to extend them by six months. The operation of qualified privilege and quality assurance committees under the Health Act has been a matter of discussion between public and private hospitals, several health professional organisations and ACT Health for a considerable period of time.

The need to use information about health care outcomes and activities to improve patient care is now well recognised. However, many health care professionals fear that the information they contribute to those activities might unfairly be used for purposes other than for which it was intended. As a result, some health care professionals have been reluctant to contribute sensitive information to health professionals and committees involved in health care safety and quality improvement activities. Quality assurance legislation seeks to provide for the confidentiality and protection of certain information generated by or for the purposes of health care quality improvement committees.

The Health Act 1993 was amended in 2001 by adding a set of provisions which regulate the establishment and conduct of quality assurance committees in private health facilities and provide protection from litigation to members of those committees in relation to their conduct as members of the committees. Provision has also been made for the minister to declare a quality assurance activity.

The bill focuses on the following areas in particular. The existing legislation fails to clearly establish performance indicators and outcome requirements for approved committees. In addition, there is no requirement to identify the reason why a committee requires qualified privilege to undertake the functions of their committee or that it is in the public interest to restrict disclosure of information. The proposed amendments will ensure that these requirements are incorporated into the legislation. This amendment will also allow the establishment of combined public and private health quality assurance committees and as a consequence will enhance quality assurance activities that support members of the community who utilise both the public and private health sector.

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