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Auditor-General called in to probe dodgy health numbers

By 27 April 2012 13

The ABC has the news that Chief Minister Gallagher has been forced to call in the Auditor-General to investigate the manipulation of health statistics (in particular Emergency Department numbers).

With the Chief Minister having staked much political capital on improvements being reported from the hospital it is a particularly bad look that she’s now admitted the stood down senior administrative staff member is in a personal relationship with a member of her family.

Ms Gallagher says because the staffer involved has a personal relationship with one of her family members, Deputy Chief Minister Andrew Barr will oversee the investigation.

“I’ve come to this decision as soon as I practically could with all the information available to me and that includes privacy concerns, it included some legal advice, it included some advice around the code of conduct,” she said.

UPDATE: Meanwhile the Liberals’ Jeremy Hanson (Who at this point has spent a significant chunk of his life arguing with the Chief Minister over health statistics) is onto the story of the personal relationship like a seagull onto a chip.

ACT Shadow Health Minister Jeremy Hanson said today this is information Katy Gallagher should have volunteered from day one, but instead refused, including in an official briefing yesterday.

“Katy Gallagher should have admitted this right away as it raises obvious questions about the staff member’s motives. Instead, she intentionally hid it from the public, and presumably only admitted to it after my questioning in the briefing,” Mr Hanson said.

“This Chief Minister cannot be trusted. She covered up bullying in Canberra Hospital, was dishonest about elective surgery data, released falsified emergency department data, and now, didn’t give Canberrans the full story about the staff member who altered the data for a whole week.

“This is about as serious as it gets and is a despicable breach of trust between Canberrans and the Chief Minister. Peddling incorrect statistics was bad enough, but Katy Gallagher has now shown she has no boundaries when it comes to hiding the full facts from Canberrans.

The Greens at this time remains silent and the Chief Minister has yet to put a statement online.

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13 Responses to Auditor-General called in to probe dodgy health numbers
#1
welkin315:42 pm, 27 Apr 12

The first function of Govt is secrecy – the second is spin.
So they delayed letting this see light of day till near end Friday.
Just get the data public so it can be seen what was fudged.

#2
dpm7:21 pm, 27 Apr 12

…but ‘stood down’ on full pay. That’ll teach ‘em!
Seriously though, I’m not too concerned about it. 1) I’m sure all jurisdictions do it. 2) Considering we’re still the worst, the twaeking hasn’t helped too much. You only have to visit ED in person to see how dire it is. A slight change in percentage points on a graph isn’t/wasn’tmaking life better there, IMO. Just a useless stat at that level…..
Though, one wonders what the waiting times would have been really *without* being ‘improved’?!?
I say, for the next year or so, skip any more public art installations and hire a couple more ED doctors and a few more nurses (basically, throw a few million at whatever the major bottleneck is)! If it is that politically embarrasing, surely it’s worth a bit of focus?? :-)

#3
cranky7:32 pm, 27 Apr 12

So this became public knowledge on Tues 24.

But the CM waited until Friday 27 to fess up to the conflict of interest. When the wretched media had gone to bed for the weekend.

And does anyone wonder why our political masters are held in such absolute contempt?

#4
welkin317:01 am, 28 Apr 12

Where are the usual squadrons of Labor apologists on this issue ?
I would say to the Chief Minister – you should have some information for the public Monday morning – full and frank – open and transparent – revealing the following.
Nobody is impressed or satisfied that your deputy is handling the thing.
And ditto for your newly appointed Auditor General – ex Environment Commissioner. To the extent they are involved – they better be working the weekend.
Here are some ideas of what is needed to be public by Monday morning.
For what period – with dates – were these wrong Hospital numbers promulgated – when were they discovered.
A chart or two starting well before the commencement of the tweaking showing clearly the correct numbers for the dept concerned together with the wrong numbers for comparison.
So the public has a clear view of the scale and importance of the wrongdoing.
A chart on the same timescale conveying how Commonwealth Grants (and other Govt financing) were running for the correct numbers – and how Commonwealth Grants could have been enhanced by the tweaked numbers and hypothetical continuation of the tweaked numbers.
Did the wrong numbers reported affect only one dept or did they impact on say – numbers in a ward or wards.
The dollars are important – I have just heard news that Yass Hospital can not afford a midwife – so it is relevant to see what Govt dollars might have been affected by this tweaking.
If this is not handled quickly and openly – common sense would tell you that the issue is likely to fester and be more damaging than it should be.

#5
dungfungus9:46 am, 28 Apr 12

cranky said :

So this became public knowledge on Tues 24.

But the CM waited until Friday 27 to fess up to the conflict of interest. When the wretched media had gone to bed for the weekend.

And does anyone wonder why our political masters are held in such absolute contempt?

The CT gives this issue a small headline on the front page this morning (Annabell Crabb gets huge headlines at other times) and Noel Towell gives a supplemntary single column comment deeper into the rag which is more one of sympathy for Gallagher.
I wonder if Towell has starting working on the FOI applications yet? He was quick out of the blocks when Zed’s gonads were on the line.

#6
bd8412:12 pm, 28 Apr 12

Given what likes a very indirect nature of the conflict of interest, the 3 days taken to note the conflict of interest and obtain advice about it seems reasonable. Especially if you consider that th CM may not have been aware of the conflict until told of the friendship by the family member and also that Anzac day was also in the middle. Any time much longer would see me questioning it, but otherwise it seems fine.

#7
Mr Evil2:35 pm, 28 Apr 12

Greens at this time remain silent…………….well, that says it all, doesn’t it!

#8
PantsMan3:12 pm, 28 Apr 12

Does this relate to the ACT Government’s “Open Government” policy?

#9
housebound4:36 pm, 28 Apr 12

welkin31 said :

Where are the usual squadrons of Labor apologists on this issue ?
I would say to the Chief Minister – you should have some information for the public Monday morning – full and frank – open and transparent – revealing the following.
Nobody is impressed or satisfied that your deputy is handling the thing.
And ditto for your newly appointed Auditor General – ex Environment Commissioner. To the extent they are involved – they better be working the weekend.

This isn’t reasonable. Most people here would be very suspicious if they came up with all the answers by Monday.

bd84 said :

Given what likes a very indirect nature of the conflict of interest, the 3 days taken to note the conflict of interest and obtain advice about it seems reasonable.

It’s not really that indirect. A friend of the Chief Minister’s family cooks the books to make things look better for the Labor government, and the Chief Minister has to ask for advice on whether she should head up an investigation into the matter? Hard to defend really.

#10
caf4:37 pm, 28 Apr 12

Bringing the Auditor-General in to shed some light on the situation seems like the appropriate move.

#11
Mr Evil4:40 pm, 28 Apr 12

PantsMan said :

Does this relate to the ACT Government’s “Open Government” policy?

No, the ‘Open Government’ thing only applies to the parts that the ACT Government wants to appear ‘open’ i.e. the bits that make it look good.

#12
snoopydoc2:58 pm, 01 May 12

@ dpm

I agree, we could forgo any new public art projects and pipe the money into health care. However, the main reason for long waiting times in ED is _not_ a lack of ED doctors or nurses. It is a lack of physical bed spaces in which to assess and treat new patients. This lack of physical bedspace occurs because the patients who have already been seen, diagnosed, and had treatment commenced cannot _leave_ the ED because there are no hospital beds for them to go to.

The problem is known as “access block”. The solution is more inpatient beds (real inpatient beds, not day surgery beds, etc.) and increased efficiency in managing both inpatient and ED beds. ED and inpatient teams are doing their best to improve things on the efficiency front, but increasing the number of acute beds in the hospital is necessary, and requires action much further up the administrative food chain.

#13
dpm3:47 pm, 01 May 12

snoopydoc said :

@ dpm

I agree, we could forgo any new public art projects and pipe the money into health care. However, the main reason for long waiting times in ED is _not_ a lack of ED doctors or nurses. It is a lack of physical bed spaces in which to assess and treat new patients. This lack of physical bedspace occurs because the patients who have already been seen, diagnosed, and had treatment commenced cannot _leave_ the ED because there are no hospital beds for them to go to.

The problem is known as “access block”. The solution is more inpatient beds (real inpatient beds, not day surgery beds, etc.) and increased efficiency in managing both inpatient and ED beds. ED and inpatient teams are doing their best to improve things on the efficiency front, but increasing the number of acute beds in the hospital is necessary, and requires action much further up the administrative food chain.

Yes, I was only thinking about the prob being hospital beds after I posted. I think that bottleneck is a bit more costly…
I also noticed on my last ED visit that they had replaced 3 ED beds with 5 ED ‘chairs’. I presumed to get a couple more people seen (and hopefully out) while waiting for a bed for those that needed one? This also points to the fact that Docs and nurses in there can (hopefully!) handle a couple more patients in there! I wonder if there will be more chairs appearing in there as time goes on (as an attempted cheaper ‘solution’)….

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