Health Ombudsman Act 2013 in Queensland

The 1 July 2014 saw the commencement of the Health Ombudsman Act 2013 in Queensland and the introduction of a new Health Ombudsman.  Mr Leon Atkinson-MacEwen has been appointed Queensland Health Ombudsman and a newly appointed Medical Board has been announced.  The Board will be headed by Associate Professor Susan Young from the University of Queensland School of Nursing and Midwifery.

The Ombudsman is now able to scrutinise the practice of both regulated and unregulated workers (i.e. personal carers/assistants in nursing) who provide a service related to health and well being.  This includes acute and aged care services (residential and community) and also other health service provision industries such as allied health clinics, gymnasiums and health spas.

The Act means that any notifications to AHPRA regarding regulated workers pursuant to the Health Practitioner National Law Act 2009 (the National Law), are to be made to the Health Ombudsman.  The Ombudsman “must deal with all serious matters related to health conduct and performance” (Mr Atkinson – McEwan 23 July 2014).  In addition to dealing with serious matters the Ombudsman has been given new powers which include being able to take immediate action and suspend or place conditions on a registered health practitioner or issue a prohibition notice on unregulated practitioners. The Health Ombudsman can take action without seeking clinical advice or submissions from the individual concerned. 

Whilst the Health Ombudsman can request further information from a practitioner they are also able to suspended a practitioner immediately where the continuation of practice would put the health and safety of an individual or the public at risk. Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) has been charged with the responsibility of oversight for the Health Ombudsman. Minter Ellison (in conjunction with LASA Q) has provided a brief overview of the key changes brought about by the legislation.  You can access this information by clicking on the more information link!

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