Legislation

Queensland Government to fund nursing initiatives

The Queensland Government will invest $212.3 million over 4 years in nursing initiatives aimed at improving patient safety and generating better health care outcomes for patients.

New legislation to enforce nurse-to-patient ratios will also be introduced, making Queensland the second state in Australia to determine the number of patients that can be allocated to a single nurse in public health facilities.

Health Minister Cameron Dick explained that “these ratios of 1:4, 1:4 and 1:7 respectively for morning, afternoon and night shifts will ensure that when a patient presses the bedside buzzer, they will promptly get the caring attention they need”.

As part of the initiative, 400 experienced nurses will be employed across the state and the Government will provide funding for up to 4,000 new nurse and midwifery graduate places.

To view the media statement, click here.

News

Medicines Australia boosts transparency measures in Code of Conduct 

Medicines Australia has updated its Code of Conduct for Australian pharmaceutical companies, requiring payments made to healthcare professionals to be publicly disclosed online for the first time. This is part of an industry effort to improve patient outcomes by increasing accountability and transparency through the exchange of knowledge between medicine makers and healthcare professionals.

Medicines Australia member companies will be required to report payments to healthcare professionals. Payments will be reported when member companies pay a healthcare professional for their expert service or when financial support is provided for education purposes, including airfares, accommodation and conference registration fees.

There will be an initial 12 month period of adjustment commencing on 1 October 2015, and from 1 October 2016 the Code will make reporting of all payments to healthcare professionals mandatory.

To view the media release, click here.

Cases

Workcover NSW non-compliant with Health Privacy Principles, says NSW Court

An appeal panel of the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal has delivered findings of non-compliance with NSW’s Health Privacy Principles (HPPs) against WorkCover NSW.

While investigating a workplace bullying complaint, WorkCover obtained a psychiatrist’s report from the complainant’s employer without the complainant’s knowledge or consent. The report was later relied on by WorkCover, in part, to dismiss the bullying complaint.

The complainant alleged that WorkCover breached numerous HPPs under the Health Records and Information Privacy Act 2002 (NSW). At first instance, the Tribunal found breaches of HPP 3 (direct collection), 4 (notices of practices when collecting information) and 5(1)(c) (security safeguards) proven. However, on appeal, the Tribunal found WorkCover NSW had also breached HPP 6 (general notice of information holdings and access rights). Specifically, it found that Workcover NSW had failed to transparently explain how the public could ascertain what health information was stored, why it was being used and whether access rights existed. The Tribunal held that compliance with HPP 6 required the presence of an “easily accessible document” which “directly corresponds with the contents of HPP 6”.

The Tribunal expressed its disappointment with WorkCover NSW’s approach to HPP 6, describing it as “tak(ing) the reader or the Tribunal on a website tour of bland passages in (privacy) documents that are not linked in any comprehensive way”.

To view the full decision, click here.

To view the NSW HPPs, click here

Articles

Michael Gorton has been published in Lawyers Weekly 

Victorian Health Minister launches consultation on new health complaints legislation based on review chaired by Russell Kennedy Principal, Michael Gorton AM. 

The Victorian Health Minister, Jill Hennessy MP, has launched a ‘Consultation Paper modernising Victoria’s Health Complaints Legislation’ based on recommendations made by an expert panel chaired by Russell Kennedy Principal, Michael Gorton AM.

You can read about this further in Lawyers Weekly.