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    Premier & Treasurer
    The Honourable Peter Beattie

    Broader Terms Of Reference Sharpen Davies' Tools For Reform

    Premier & Treasurer
    The Honourable Peter Beattie

    Friday, September 23, 2005

    Broader Terms Of Reference Sharpen Davies' Tools For Reform

    The Queensland Government has extended the terms of reference of the Royal Commission into public hospitals following a request from Commissioner Geoff Davies AO.

    Premier Peter Beattie, who returned from an overseas investment mission late last night, attended a special meeting of Executive Council which made the changes this afternoon.

    The changes took immediate effect.

    "The government has extended the terms of reference to remove any doubt that Commissioner Davies has the powers to expose problems in Queensland public hospitals and give us detailed recommendations for reform," Mr Beattie said.

    "These broader terms will enable the Commissioner to recommend improvements to the Coroners Act, if he thinks this is necessary.

    "We have also removed any shadow of a doubt that the commission can inquire into waiting list issues.

    "Commissioner Davies has ruled that he has had the power from day one of his commission to investigate waiting list issues.

    "However he made the point in a letter to me this week that it would not be immediately clear to anyone other than a lawyer that the original terms of reference covered waiting lists.

    "Commissioner Davies was also concerned that, under current provisions in the Coroners Act, it is not always clear as to when a death that follows a health procedure is reportable to the Coroner.

    "One of the changes made today clarifies that he can recommend changes to the Coroners Act, such as setting a more objective way of deciding whether a death that results from elective surgery must be reported to the coroner.

    "The amendments also make it crystal clear that the inquiry can recommend disciplinary or other action or proceedings against any person.

    Attorney-General Linda Lavarch said: "I am pleased that the government has been able to extend Commissioner Davies' terms of reference in the two areas he has identified - waiting list issues and possible improvements to the Coroners Act.

    "We are giving Commissioner Davies the powers and support he needs to do the job - and we will continue to do so.

    "Commissioner Davies already has wide-ranging terms of reference and these changes will make them even more effective," Mrs Lavarch said. Mr Beattie said he looked forward to receiving the Commission's report and recommendations and continuing the urgent process of improving health services for Queenslanders.

    "Commissioner Davies has proved to be every bit the rigorous and robust inquiry head that Queensland needs to help the government and the health workforce reform the system," Mr Beattie said.

    The new terms of reference follow.

    23 September 2005 Media contact: 3224 4500 (Premier's office); 3239 6400 (AG's office)

    Terms of Reference the Queensland Hospitals COI as amended on 23 September 2005 2. UNDER the provisions of the Commissions of Inquiry Act 1950, Her Excellency the Governor, acting by and with the advice of the Executive Council, hereby appoints the Honourable Geoffrey Davies AO to make full and careful inquiry in an open and independent manner with respect to the following matters:-

    (a) The role and conduct of the Queensland Medical Board in relation to the assessment, registration and monitoring of overseas-trained medical practitioners, with particular reference to Dr Jayant Patel and persons claiming to be overseas-trained medical practitioners.

    (b) (i) Any substantive allegations, complaints or concerns relating to the clinical practice and procedures conducted by Dr Patel at the Bundaberg Base Hospital;

    (ii) the employment of Dr Patel by Queensland Health; (iii) the appointment of Dr Patel to the Bundaberg Base Hospital; (iv) the adequacy of the response by Queensland Health to any complaints received by it concerning Dr Patel; and (v) whether or not there were any reprisals or threatened reprisals made by any official of Queensland Health against any person who made the complaints referred to in (iv) above.

    (c) Any substantive allegations, complaints or concerns relating to the clinical practice and procedures conducted by other medical practitioners, or persons claiming to be medical practitioners, at the Bundaberg Base Hospital or other Queensland Public Hospitals raised at the Commission of Inquiry established by Commissions of Inquiry Order (No. 1) of 2005.

    (d) The appropriateness, adequacy and timeliness of action taken to deal with any of the allegations, complaints or concerns referred to in (a), (b) and (c) above, both: (i) within the Bundaberg Base Hospital; and (ii) outside the Bundaberg Base Hospital. (e) In relation to (a) to (d) above, whether there is sufficient evidence to justify: (i) referral of any matter to the Commissioner of the Police Service for investigation or prosecution; (ii) action by the Crime and Misconduct Commission in respect of official misconduct or disciplinary matters;

    (iii) the bringing of disciplinary or other proceedings or the taking of other action against or in respect of any person; or

    (iv) amendments to the Coroners Act 2003 in relation to appropriate reporting of deaths caused by or as a result of a health procedure.

    (f) For the purpose of clarification and the removal of doubt, the phrase "substantive allegations, complaints or concerns relating to the clinical practice and procedures" in (b) and (c) hereof includes allegations, complaints or concerns relating to acts or omissions by current and former employees of the Queensland Department of Health which relate to clinical practices or procedures conducted by medical practitioners or persons claiming to be medical practitioners including acts or omissions relating to waiting lists both for patients referred to specialist outpatient's appointments and for surgical procedures.