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Safety Overhaul To Put Victorian Patients First

The Andrews Labor Government will overhaul quality and safety to drive down avoidable harm in Victorian hospitals as part of the most significant reform of our health system in decades.

The Government today released the report Targeting Zero: supporting the Victorian hospital system to eliminate avoidable harm and strengthen quality of care and announced a suite of reforms to put patient safety first.

The state-wide review, led by Dr Stephen Duckett, was commissioned by the Government following the discovery of a cluster of potentially avoidable newborn and stillborn deaths at Djerriwarrh Health Services.

The review found that while our hospitals deliver some of the best care in the world, the Department of Health and Human Services has failed to provide adequate oversight of quality and safety across our health services.

It indicated gaps and failings in our quality and safety systems have been overlooked, and the action and leadership required from the Department to achieve change and prioritise patient safety has not occurred.

It also highlighted the need for increased investment in mental health services to ensure significant demand is met now and into the future.

The Government has accepted in-principle all recommendations made by the review, with work already underway to implement them.

An additional $13 million will be provided to support this work, building on the $16.8 million in the Victorian Budget 2016/17 to strengthen quality and safety, bringing the total investment to nearly $30 million.

The Government will establish Safer Care Victoria, a new agency dedicated to monitoring and improving quality and safety to work towards zero avoidable harm in our health system.

Led by world leading clinician and researcher Professor Euan Wallace, Safer Care Victoria will put patient safety front and centre, identifying best practice ideas and initiatives, and expanding them across the health system.

Other actions to strengthen quality and safety include:

  • A new health information agency to overhaul the way in which data and information is shared across the health system so we know where the concerns are, and where we’re getting it right
  • The creation of the Victorian Clinical Council to provide clinical expertise to the Government, the Department and health services on how to make our hospitals safer for Victorian patients
  • Public and private hospitals being held to the same quality and safety standards and reporting requirements – because patients deserve to feel safe wherever they receive care
  • Consultation on a Duty of Candour law where health services must apologise to any person harmed while receiving care, and explain what went wrong and what action will be taken
  • Examining the option of extending no fault medical insurance for health care injuries – similar to compensation schemes for injuries in the workplace and from motor vehicles
  • A new Ministerial Board Advisory Committee to make sure our hospital and health service boards have the right mix of skills, knowledge and experience to strengthen local governance and decision making
  • Providing boards with the information they need to hold their chief executives to account and the training they need to improve performance
  • Ensuring that wherever possible regional Victorians will receive care closer to home, but making sure those with complex conditions have the support they need to travel to receive safe, quality care in an appropriate hospital setting – usually in a regional hub
  • The development of master plan options for the Thomas Embling Hospital, along with staging and delivery considerations, in line with the current and future needs of the service
  • Increasing the mental health workforce by funding an additional 130 mental health staff to better meet demand

A new Safety and Quality Bill will also be introduced into Parliament next year to address a number of the recommendations, with a major review of the Health Service and Ambulance Service Acts to follow.

These reforms will build on the significant work already undertaken by the Government to strengthen quality and safety across the health system.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Health Jill Hennessy

“We want to do everything we can to reduce avoidable harm in our hospitals, and make them as safe as they can possibly be.”

“A goal of zero avoidable harm is an ambitious target, but one we have an obligation to do everything we can to achieve.”

“We are putting the safety of Victorian patients first. I’d like to thank Dr Duckett for leading this important piece of work to create a better, safer health system.”

Quotes attributable Minister for Mental Health Martin Foley

“World-class care must be matched by a world-class quality and safety system, and that is exactly what these reforms will deliver.”

 “We’re making sure our mental health providers are the best they can be by providing extra resources to implement our 10 year mental health plan.”