Investigations into Launceston General Hospital allegations underway
The Department of Health acknowledges the serious allegations against a former senior doctor at the Launceston General Hospital regarding reportable deaths, which have been raised by witnesses in evidence to the Select Committee on Transfer of Care Delays.
The Department of Health is currently investigating these allegations to identify the individual patients concerned, and to compile all relevant information across the Department’s systems. This information will then be reviewed by an independent clinical expert to determine if these cases are reportable deaths.
Following review, if any deaths are considered to be reportable deaths, they will be referred pursuant to the Coroner’s Act to all relevant authorities, including Tasmania Police if a potential breach of the law is detected.
At this stage, the Secretary of the Department of Health, Kathrine Morgan-Wicks, has received information from a staff member in relation to one patient, and is continuing to make further inquiries in relation to this case.
A further four anonymous complaints have been received by the Secretary which support the allegations raised by witnesses to the Select Committee, but these do not identify any patient information to review.
“I would like to make this call to the public – please report to us any concerns relating to the death of a patient at the Launceston General Hospital that you believe should have been a reportable death to the Coroner,’’ Ms Morgan-Wicks said.
“I want to assure any family members or staff that wish to report concerns regarding a patient death and have a particular patient file reviewed – these concerns will be treated very seriously and properly investigated.
“I encourage anyone with concerns or information to report it via the Report Inappropriate Behaviour Form, either with your details or anonymously. I assure that this information comes directly to the Office of the Secretary and is confidentially recorded for review.
“In addition to reviewing any patient deaths identified in complaints to the Department, I will appoint an independent clinical expert to review all public hospital death reporting procedures.
“This will ensure that the procedures meet all relevant legal and clinical reporting standards and have appropriate escalation protocols to allow clinicians at any level to request an internal review of a decision relating to a death within a hospital,’’ Ms Morgan-Wicks said.
Information relating to these independent clinical experts will be released once they have been appointed pursuant to the Tasmanian Health Service Act.
The Department of Health is also undertaking a general review of data relating to all deaths at the Launceston General Hospital, and the rates of reporting. This review is underway.