A senior administrative staff member of ACT Health has been stood down after discrepancies were discovered in relation to statistics about the waiting times in the emergency department data.
The director-general of health Dr Peggy Brown said the matter is being treated as "serious", and a formal investigation has been launched.
Dr Brown said the inaccurate reporting on statistics had been happening for more than 12 months, and could have started as far back as late 2010.
‘‘It appears waiting and treatment times have been altered on some records without authority, and I am very sorry this has occurred.’’
The hospital’s data is checked externally and internally, and it was an external check that brought anomalies to light.
The data showed improved waiting times, but this would not have impacted on planning to cover peaks and troughs.
Dr Brown says the overall impact on data is small, but the full extent is not yet known. In national emergency access targets recorded under the new National Health Reform, the directorate believes the overall change is 2 per cent.
The errors were discovered about two weeks ago and the senior staffer was stood down on Monday pending a review.
A previous Auditor General’s report found poor documentation at the Canberra Hospital, but Dr Brown says this is the first time she is aware of data manipulation. A paramedic has told The Canberra Times data does not reflect the full extent of delays finding beds for patients delivered to the hospital by ambulance.
Dr Brown says there have been two previous cases where data has been corrected.
She would not speculate on what motivated the senior staff member to change statistics.
‘‘I will note however, that there was no personal or financial gain for the individual. I think they have made a very serious error of judgment seeking to slightly enhance the performance data of the emergency department.
‘‘It has been a very misguided decision.’’
Dr Brown says a forensic audit has started and there will be a second, overall review of data processes, both of which should take several weeks to complete.
Data, including the latest quarterly figures, will have to be corrected . Staff will have to go back and correct all records.