Page 473 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 15 February 2017

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Questions without notice

Minister for Health—incoming minister briefing

MR COE: Madam Speaker, my question is to the Minister for Health. When you became Minister for Health, you would have received an incoming minister’s brief advising you of important issues within your portfolio. What information did that brief contain with regard to inaccuracies in health data?

MS FITZHARRIS: I thank Mr Coe for the question. I do not recall the precise detail of what was in the incoming brief folder, but as I indicated yesterday on a number of occasions, I was aware of some of the difficulties that had been encountered in the production of the 2015-16 annual reports for Health.

MR COE: Minister, did the incoming minister’s brief contain any information about inaccuracies with health data?

MS FITZHARRIS: Yes, I reiterate that it is my recollection—and I will go back and check the incoming government brief—that I was made aware, certainly if not within the written folder then in my first verbal briefing as the Minister for Health, that there were inaccuracies encountered in the production of the quarterly reports; that Health were in the process of resolving those; and that the quarterly reports for 2015-16 were then published on 9 November. I became minister, I believe, at midnight on 1 November.

MRS DUNNE: Minister, did your incoming minister’s brief contain information about ACT Health failing to provide data to the AIHW and any impact that may have had on the national health funding board’s payments to the ACT?

MS FITZHARRIS: No it did not, because I do not believe they were issues that Health were aware of at the time.

ACT Health—data management

MRS KIKKERT: My question is to the Minister for Health. Since 2011 there have been five Auditor-General’s reports into health data. These include a report on elective surgery and medical treatment in 2011 and emergency department data in 2012. There was a review into the hepatology and gastroenterology department in 2014, a review of the integrity of data in the Health Directorate in 2015 and a review into Calvary hospital finances in 2016. Why has it taken so long for the Health Directorate to review its data management procedures given that there have been five critical Auditor-General’s reports over five years?

MS FITZHARRIS: The five Auditor-General’s reports that Mrs Kikkert referred to were not all solely related to data. Indeed, one of those reports—the Auditor-General’s report into Calvary—was referred to the Auditor-General by the then Minister for Health. It is certainly the case that I would expect that the Auditor-General, given that the health budget is close to one-third of the overall ACT budget and constitutes significant activity by the ACT government, would be reporting on and looking into the performance of health. That is as it should be.

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