Page 247 - Week 01 - Thursday, 17 February 2011

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enable quality assurance committees to make extraordinary reports to the chief executive, in the interests of the quality and safety of health services. This will also provide a clear reporting mechanism for issues that are outside the scope and function of a quality assurance committee. Additionally, a new provision has been added allowing a mechanism for the chief executive to request reports from the committees on their activities.

The final amendment provides for an automatic expiration of all quality assurance committees after three years. This will establish a mechanism for managing committees whose function falters over time, is primarily administrative and will not affect the functions of the quality assurance committees.

Part 5 of the Health Act governs the establishment and procedures of clinical privileges committees. This part was amended in June 2006, particularly in respect of disclosure of information. Essentially, the changes made placed restrictions on the admissibility of protected information and statements given, and documents prepared, in relation to clinical privileges committees.

Since these amendments were made, it has become apparent that some aspects of part 5 of the Health Act did not fully reflect the intent behind the 2006 amendments. Specifically, the provisions related to the obligations of confidentiality imposed under the legislation regarding information obtained by clinical privileges committees having resulted in complex administrative arrangements being required so that ACT Health is able to meet its obligations to protect the safety of members of the public fully. A series of proposed amendments to part 5 in this bill have been developed to address this problem.

Firstly, the bill proposes to replace the term “clinical privileges” with the term “scope of clinical practice”. This will align the language of the Health Act with the national standard for credentialling and defining the scope of clinical practice and the existing policies of other Australian states on credentialling and defining the scope of clinical practice of doctors and dentists. The two new provisions will then allow for clinical privileges committees to credential doctors and dentists and also define a scope of clinical practice for, and grant a scope of clinical practice to, doctors and dentists.

A series of new provisions will allow for interim and emergency recommendations to be made in relation to a complaint about the clinical competency of a doctor or dentist. New provisions will then allow for decision makers to be notified of the interim and emergency recommendations, make a decision on these recommendations and then notify relevant parties of that decision, including the final decision arising from the full review process. “Relevant parties” include the chief executive of the health facility where the doctor or dentist is working, the Medical Board of Australia or the Dental Board of Australia, a health service outside the ACT, but only if there is a specific request from that health service or other third party for the information.

New provisions will mandate the sharing of information about decisions between the two decision makers in the public health sector but only in circumstances where the sharing of that information is likely to facilitate the improvement of health services provided in the ACT or the safety of persons who receive those health services.

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