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ACT Health data problems leave gaps in AMA national public hospital performance report

A key report comparing public hospital performance between different states has been left without any ACT data, after ACT Health's failure to provide data to two key federal agencies last month.

The Australian Medical Association's annual national public hospital report card was released on Friday, showing few improvements across other jurisdictions around the country.

But a gaping hole was left in the report for the nation's capital, as the AMA's report relies on annual data reported by each jurisdiction to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

While Health Minister Meegan Fitzharris has promised an extensive review of the data problems in her directorate, it is unclear why issues continue after a series of reviews, audits and investigations of ACT Health's data systems in recent years.

Ms Fitzharris said earlier this week the directorate's reporting of data to the AIHW and Productivity Commission had been delayed as a PriceWaterhouse Coopers review of the health data systems commissioned last year had not yet been completed.

AMA ACT president Dr Steve Robson said the association found out about the latest data issues "a few weeks ago", and wrote to ACT Health's Director-General, as the lack of data would affect the AMA's report, but said he received no response.

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An ACT Health spokeswoman would not respond to questions regarding why no response has been sent, instead sending a statement that letters would go out about the issues "to all health stakeholders" in the next two weeks.

Dr Robson said it was "really hard to interpret" how the ACT's public hospital system was performing, "or where we sit" compared to other areas, when there was no data provided.

"One of the things you want to know is that the health system is achieving what the government has promised, but it's hard to know where we stand (without the data)," he said.

"What the quality of what you're doing is fundamental to the delivery of the care, you've got to know whether it's effective, whether it's achieving its aims."

Dr Robson said he was aware of past "data problems" in the directorate and the medical profession was "keen to be reassured that it's solved", but he believed the latest issues must be "reasonably embarrassing" for the territory government.

"The issue for us is that we're the smallest of all the jurisdictions and we've really only got a couple of public hospitals," he said.

"So I'm just scratching my head on why this is so hard, when New South Wales, with over 100 public hospitals, doesn't seem to have a problem.

"The (AMA) report card is issued almost as much for jurisdictions (as the public) to give them leverage with the commonwealth and it makes it really hard to argue your case if you can't put anything on the table.

"If the (Northern) Territory can do it, and NSW with so many public hospitals, are able to do it, why can't the ACT?"