'Come clean' call to health service

TWEED MP Geoff Provest yesterday asked North Coast Area Health to come clean with the results of its internal investigation into serious clinical incidents. Mr Provest's comments came after it was revealed in Saturday's Tweed Daily News that the NCAHS had investigated 200 serious clinical incidents across its hospitals in the past two years.

NCAHS acting chief executive Stewart Dowrick had earlier said the incidents could range from something as simple as a power failure to avoidable patient deaths. However, he had refused to reveal how many of the 200 RCAs were classified Severity Assessment Code 1 incidents involving avoidable patient deaths or other adverse outcomes. The internal investigation is part of the Root Cause Analysis report conducted on every Reportable Incident and submitted to the NSW Health Department. Accusing NCAHS of hiding behind a "veil of secrecy", Mr Provest said the community had a right to know how many were "occurring in our neck of the woods". "There should be some level of credibility and standards," Mr Provest said. "If there are problems and issues then the public needs to be satisfied they have been addressed."

NCAHS was one of the four area health services which had failed to provide information about RCA reports to the NSW Upper House, citing a NSW Health Incident Management Policy loophole which does not require an annual review of RCAs. Mr Dowrick said though NCAHS was committed to openness it also wanted to avoid developing a culture of blame and shame. However Mr Provest rejected the argument, saying the community stood behind its doctors and nurses.

"It is not the fault of the doctors and nurses, they are just not given the resources and ultimately it will have a detrimental effect on morale," he said.

"We can't escape the fact The Tweed Hospital is currently $4.8 million over budget, and that means services could be cut which could endanger quality of treatment."



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