Palaszczuk Government cracks down on Legionella reporting
Published Wednesday, 03 February, 2016 at 03:37 PM
Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services
The Honourable Cameron Dick
Legionella test results from every hospital and aged care facility in Queensland will be made public under proposed legislative changes to be introduced into Parliament early this year.
Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Cameron Dick said that while most hospitals were vigilant in monitoring their water supplies for the bacteria, greater transparency was required.
Currently, there is no requirement for private hospitals to inform the Department of Health if water testing for Legionella bacteria was positive. Existing legislation also prohibits the Department from publicly releasing some information about private hospitals.
“Under these changes, hospitals and residential aged care facilities will be required to conduct regular tests for the Legionella bacteria and those results will be made public,” he said.
“What we are doing is putting in place a framework which is more transparent and will give the public more confidence that hospitals are regularly testing their water supplies for Legionella bacteria.
“There have been some recent events that have caused me to look closely at this matter and have prompted me to set up a legislative framework.”
Mr Dick said that he did not want to overstate the prevalence or threat of Legionella, but it was important that the information flow was managed in a systematic way.
“I want to make sure facilities are testing and reporting adequately to the department, and that we’re communicating those results publicly,” he said.
Mr Dick said the proposed legislation endorsed by Cabinet this week would make it compulsory for hospitals and aged care facilities to undertake testing and notify the department of test results. The proposed changes would also ensure that there was consistency in reporting across the public and private sectors.
The proposed changes will also be phased in over time for the private residential aged care sector in order to minimise the impact on smaller providers.
A summary of all test results will be required to be reported to the Department every three months and those reports will be made public.
Under the proposed changes, the Department will have the power to direct amendments to a hospital or aged care facility’s Water Quality Risk Management Plan if it is found to be inadequate.
The proposed changes also provide for a penalty of nearly $24,000 for non-compliance.
Mr Dick said he planned to introduce the legislation in the first half of the year and would seek support from the Opposition and cross-benchers for the changes.
MEDIA CONTACT: Andrew Fraser 0428 690 679