12 August 2013  
On 4 June 2013 the Hon. Laurence Springborg, Minister for Health, introduced the Health Ombudsman Bill 2013 into Queensland Parliament. The aim of the Bill (and the proposed legislation) is to strengthen the health complaints management system in Queensland by establishing a Health Ombudsman and a system for dealing with complaints and other matters relation to the health, conduct or performance of health practitioners and the services provided by health service organisations.
The Health Ombudsman is a statutory position, which will replace the Health Quality and Complaints Commission (‘HQCC’). The Health Ombudsman would report to the Queensland Health Minister and have broad powers to act as a single point of dealing with complaints about health services and providers. The Bill will also create the office of the Health Ombudsman.

The Bill, if passed, will mean that Queensland will be a ‘co-regulatory jurisdiction’ for the purpose of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law. While National registration of health practitioners will not be affected, the Bill will vary the manner in which the disciplinary arrangements for registered health practitioners is managed.

With a report for the Qld Parliament from the Health and Community Services Committee due on 12 August 2013, the medical industry has expressed grave concerns about the original draft of the Health Ombudsman Bill 2013.

Dr Christian Rowan, AMAQ President, stated in a media release on 18 July 2013 that “We believe it lacks sufficient independence from government and undervalues clinical input into decision-making.”

“It does not ensure that health practitioners will be treated fairly and does not uphold the principles of natural justice. The current version of the Bill does not ensure that practitioners are, and are seen to be, treated fairly throughout the complaints handling process.”

These concerns are shared by member organisations of the MIIAA.

Nicola Ellis from Moray & Agnew Lawyers, Brisbane, will discuss the main features of the proposed health complaints management system in Queensland and how these changes will impact on health practitioners practicing in the state.

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