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Duckett review: More paperwork doesn't equal safer care

Posted 14 October 2016

While the recommendations of the Duckett Review into Safety and Quality have the potential to save lives, the government must guard against burdening public health services with unnecessary regulation with no clear link to improved clinical outcomes.

The CEO of the Victorian Healthcare Association Tom Symondson also warned against token changes. 

“The department has drilled hospitals for too long on finance without focusing on the thing that patients rightly care about most – safety and quality.

“It’s a damning report; now the important thing is to ensure the changes are not token,” Mr Symondson said today.

Despite some specific concerns, the VHA congratulated both the review panel for its exhaustive research and the government for supporting the review’s recommendations and commitment to action.

“But we urge the government to appreciate that more paperwork doesn’t equate to better governance.

“In implementing the recommendations, we must be sure to avoid knee jerk responses that do nothing but add another layer of pain to a sector already bogged down by bureaucratic processes and reporting,” he said.

Despite many excellent recommendations there are some which actually pose potential risks to the governance and delivery of health services, Mr Symondson said.

“The VHA will focus closely on these to ensure their implementation does not result in diminished access to local services, nor come at the cost of invaluable support from local communities.”

“We have already started working with our members to ensure the report’s recommendations are understood and implemented successfully in public hospitals.”

Mr Symondson supported the appointment of Professor Euan Wallace to head the new hospital safety watchdog Safer Care Victoria, to monitoring patient safety.

“We look forward to collaborating with government to ensure Victorians continue to have access to excellent care – because we can always do better.”

The review found the department had fallen down in its leadership role, had failed to adequately drive improvement, or to create economies of scale through centralised data analysis, performance benchmarking and common improvement resources.

Many of the failures outlined in the review were raised in three independent performance audits over the past decade – yet still had not been adequately addressed.

The review found Victoria’s incident reporting system was plagued with design and implementation issues rendering it almost useless for analysing statewide patient safety trends. To date, the 400,000 incident reports sitting in the system have never been systematically analysed, it found.

“Instead, the review found the department has spent a lot of money on consultancies and services, and setting up committees which haven’t actually helped patients or health services,” Mr Symondson said.

“This validates what the VHA and our members have been saying for some time. It’s about much more than committees and data submission … it’s about data analysis, culture, behavior and systems,” he said.

For more information contact: Rosanne Michie | Director of Media and Communications | 0411 868535 or rosanne.michie@vha.org.au 

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