ACT News

License article

Hospital inquiry to begin

The ACT Legislative Assembly has decided not to censure Chief Minister Katy Gallagher over misreporting of emergency department data at the Canberra Hospital.

Liberal health spokesman Jeremy Hanson sought to reprimand Ms Gallagher after a senior ACT health official falsified emergency department figures to make the hospital’s performance look better.

But an amended motion supported by the Government and Greens requests the Auditor General inquire into the data discrepancies in wait times.

Ms Gallagher said ministers had to trust the information provided to them by the public service.

‘‘In the performance of my duties I have nothing to regret or to fear or to be embarrassed about,’’ Ms Gallagher said.

‘‘I also think that the people of Canberra are pretty astute. Many of them have worked for government  directly and indirectly. They know that everyday of the week ministers take in good faith information that is provided to them by departments and put that information in the public arena. They understand that a minister isn’t able to personally verify everything their departments tell them.... There has to be within reason...a level of trust that  exists between the executive and the administration.’’

ACT Health has already appointed accounting firm PwC to conduct a forensic audit of its ‘‘data integrity.’’
But Mr Hanson said the government and Greens were not taking the issue seriously.

‘‘This is not just about random data, we are talking about data that is linked to payments and is important when it comes to saving lives,’’ Mr Hanson said.

Changes to the emergency department data mean incorrect information was published in an Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report  on national activity for 2010-11, which was published on Monday. The AIHW said  emergency department waiting times would  be revised in the online versions of the report and on the MyHospitals website after the ACT supplied corrected data.