The New South Wales Government will claim that our public health system is completely open and transparent when it comes to the release of information around the administration and reporting of adverse clinical events.
In respect of our own Hunter New England Local Health District a review of the “Disclosure Log” on their website shows just how few public interest disclosures have been made in response to applications for disclosure of statistics under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (‘GIPA Act’).
Whilst the objects of the GIPA Act are to maintain and advance a system of responsible and representative democratic Government that is open, accountable, fair and effective, the HNELHD has resisted releasing real statistics as to the number of clinical incidents occurring at its hospitals, relying on certain statutory privileges under Health Administration Act 1982 and a rather weak argument that disclosure may lead to the identification of individual victims.
The most recent statistics released were those for the period 1 October 2016 to 1 October 2018 for the John Hunter Hospital which was limited to the number of litigated claims resolved (some 105), the money paid in respect of claims in that period ($69M) and the general range of types of claims ranging from incorrect diagnosis to surgical error.
What was not released were the statistics revealing the number of reportable incidents, the numbers of near misses, Coronial inquests arising from clinical incidents, and systemic failures many of which are never the subject of a complaint to the Health Care Complaints Commission or private litigation. Without these statistics the community is blindsided to the reality of the systemic failures of our public health system.
If you or a loved one have been adversely impacted when receiving treatment within the Hunter New England Local Health District, there are avenues for redress. Our team of expert personal injury lawyers would be pleased to meet with you to discuss your options. You can either book an appointment online or call us on (02) 4050 0330 for an obligation-free consultation.