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    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services
    The Honourable Cameron Dick

    Tick for tougher laws to target unsafe health facilities

    Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services
    The Honourable Cameron Dick

    Tuesday, May 23, 2017

    Tick for tougher laws to target unsafe health facilities

    Health authorities now have the power to take stronger, swifter action against facilities found to be putting people at risk of developing serious infections.

    Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Cameron Dick said tough new legislation passed in State Parliament tonight gives the state’s health officials the power to better monitor health care facilities and investigate potential infection control breaches.

    “Thanks to these new laws, Queensland Health will have the power to detect unsafe practices more efficiently and take swift enforcement action,” Mr Dick said.

    “That means they are able to shut down or fine facilities that put patients and staff at risk of exposure to infectious, blood-borne diseases.

    “Under current legislation, Queensland Health is required to provide 24 hours’ notice before it can enter the premises of a health care service to investigate potential breaches.

    “Now, authorities can move in without local government approval and take action to eliminate or manage the risk of infection.”

    The new legislation was introduced following the closure of a Brisbane dental clinic in December because of poor infection control measures.

    The Minister said the owners or operators of health facilities were required to comply with specific infection control and training standards or face penalties of between $121,000 and $365,000 for a range of breaches.

    The legislation will:

    • require owners or operators of health care facilities to provide a copy of their infection control management plans with penalties for non-compliance;
    • empower inspectors to issue improvement notices;
    • empower the government to direct a facility to cease performing health services to protect against public health risks; and,
    • empower inspectors to enter health care facilities and apply for warrants authorising them to take certain action to remove or reduce infection risks.

    Executive Director of Queensland Health’s Communicable Diseases Branch Dr Sonya Bennett said the laws allowed health officials to act more decisively when detecting breaches and investigating complaints from the public.

    “The vast majority of health practitioners have safe and effective infection control measures in place, however as is the case with any industry, there are the exceptions,” Dr Bennett said.

    “The new laws make it very clear what we expect from owners and operators of health care services and equip us with the power to ensure those who breach the standards do not pose a risk to the public.

    “There is simply no excuse for poor infection control.”

    Health care facilities subject to the new powers include:

    • hospitals;
    • dental clinics;
    • blood banks;
    • specialist practice clinics; and
    • a range of other health facilities providing prescribed health services.

    The amendments do not apply to accredited general practices, aged care facilities, licensed private hospitals and clinics or to local government immunisation programs, because infection control requirements at these facilities are covered by existing legislation or regulations.

    Media contact: Michelle Wellington 0437 323 834