New QLD Health Transparency Laws

This alert applies to organisations that operate public and private facilities that provide health services in Queensland and will amend the QLD- Health Practitioners, QLD – Births and likely create a new module titled QLD – Health Transparency.

Health Transparency Bill 2019 (Qld)

Overview

Please be advised that the Health Transparency Bill 2019 (Qld) (the Bill) passed the Queensland Parliament on 28 November 2019 and received Royal Assent on 5 December 2019.

Sections 3 to 6, Parts 2 to 5, Part 6 – other than division 4, subdivisions 1 and 2 – and schedules 1 and 2 are due to commence on a day to be fixed by proclamation.

The Bill will also make consequential amendments to the Health Ombudsman Act 2013 (Qld), and the Public Health Act 2005 (Qld).

This Bill is intended to facilitate the publication and collection of information about public and private health service facilities, and to improve transparency surrounding the quality and safety of health services provided in Queensland. The Bill is also aimed at helping people make better-informed decisions about their health care. These purposes are achieved by enabling the publication and collection of particular types of information from the public-sector health service, private health, State aged care and private residential aged care facilities.

The Bill also allows for regulations to be prescribed regarding the minimum percentage of nurses or registered nurses providing residential care and the minimum average daily resident care hours at a State aged care facility.

Information to which the Bill Applies

The Bill applies to general, quality and safety, and residential care information that is either publicly available, given to the Chief Executive of Queensland Health under or in relation to the administration of the Bill, or held by the chief executive as a result of being derived from one of the powers given to the chief executive.

  1. General Information

Under the Bill, general information is defined as any information that identifies a facility, details the health services provided, and information about other services available at or near a facility.

  1. Quality and Safety Information

Quality and safety information is defined as information about a facility’s accreditation and performance against the National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards, or information about:

  • access to care – meaning information about the time frames in which health services are provided;
  • activity – meaning information about patients admitted to a facility or about patients who are not admitted but receive a service at a facility;
  • patient outcomes – meaning information about the impact on patients of a health service or the effectiveness of a health service provided at or by the facility; and
  • processes of care – meaning information about the processes that are in place to support quality and safety of health services at a facility.

Quality and safety information also covers other information relating to the quality and safety of health services provided at a facility and the percentage of patients treated within clinically recommended times and the number of patients waiting for a health service at the facility.

  1. Residential Care Information

The Bill mandates that residential care information need only be provided by State aged care and private residential aged care facilities.

The Bill defines residential care information as information about the personal or nursing care provided to residents, the staffing for the personal and nursing care at a facility or information that aids in explaining and understanding either of the aforementioned topics.

New Offences

Organisations should be aware that this Bill creates the following three new offences, two under the Bill itself and one under the Health Ombudsman Act 2013 (Qld):

Failure to respond to notice – Under section 15 of the Bill, a person who is given a notice by the chief executive to provide general or residential care information, and is a member of staff at a private residential aged care facility, must give all or some of the information, or a notice that none of the information is to be given to the chief executive within 15 days. A person does not commit this offence if the person has a reasonable excuse.

Failure to provide information – Under section 20 of the Bill:

a.  A health service chief executive of a Hospital and Health Service who is given a notice by the chief executive to provide:

i.  general information about a public-sector health service facility or State aged care facility that is, or is part of, the Service’s health service area;

ii.  quality and safety information about a public-sector health service facility that is, or is part of, the Service’s health service area;

iii.  residential care information about a State aged care facility that is, or is part of, the Service’s health service area,

must comply with the notice, unless they have a reasonable excuse.

b.  A licensee of a private health facility who is given a notice by the chief executive to provide general information or quality and safety information about the facility must comply with the notice, unless they have a reasonable excuse.

Offence of contravening prohibition order – Section 90P of the Health Ombudsman Act 2013 (Qld), makes it an offence for a person to contravene a prohibition or corresponding interstate order created under section 90N or 90O of the Health Ombudsman Act 2013 (Qld).

Nurse Percentages and Care Hours

Organisations that operate State aged care facilities should be aware of the potential obligations that could be created due to sections 138H and 138I of the Bill.

Under section 138H, the Bill grants the power to create a regulation regarding the minimum percentage of nurses or registered nurses that must provide residential care at a State aged care facility – as prescribed by regulation – during a 24-hour period, meaning the period starting at midnight on a day and ending immediately before midnight on the following day.

The Bill also grants the power to specify the total number of nurses and support workers that must provide residential care at the facility during a 24-hour period.

Under section 138I, the Bill creates the power to prescribe by regulation, the minimum average daily resident care hours at a State aged care facility. The average daily resident care hours are worked out by dividing the total number of hours of residential care that nurses and support workers provide at the facility on a day by the number of residents at the facility on the day.

Organisations impacted, should be aware that for both above sections, a nurse or support worker is taken to be providing residential care at a State aged care facility only if the nurse or support worker is directly involved in providing residential care at the facility.

While organisations should be aware of the potential effects of sections 138H and 138I, they also should be aware that no regulation has been enacted as yet to prescribe the minimum percentage of nurses or registered nurses that must provide residential care, or the minimum average daily resident care hours at a State aged care facility.

Conclusion

Organisations should be aware that they now need to be prepared to provide additional information if requested to do so by the chief executive. Organisations to whom the Bill impacts should also be aware that they will need to educate their staff on the new offences created under the Bill.

Organisations that operate State aged care facilities should also be aware of the possibility of regulations prescribing the minimum percentage of nurses or registered nurses providing residential care or minimum average daily resident care hours at a State aged care facility being introduced soon.

Please click here to access the full Bill.

Contact

For further information please contact the Law Compliance team:

Phone: 1300 862 667

Email: info@lawcompliance.com.au

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