Safer Care Victoria has determined to investigate possible patient safety considerations associated with Australian Clinical Laboratories (ACL) decision to close the microbiology laboratory in the Bendigo Hospital. In particular Safer Care Victoria will investigate whether or not the changes will reduce patient safety standards for Bendigo Hospital patents.
Safer Care Victoria is a Department of Health body responsible for overseeing and supporting health services to provide safe, high-quality care to patients across Victorian hospitals.
The Medical Scientists Association of Victoria has raised its concern that a panel of two eminent health clinicians appointed by Safer Care Victoria to investigate possible patient safety risks has been denied access to the Bendigo Hospital’s laboratory by ACL and also denied access to speak to pathology scientists.
It is impossible to see how a full and proper investigation of patient safety issues relating to pathology can occur if the investigators are denied access to inspect the laboratory and to interview the expert scientists involved. Imagine how people would feel if there was an investigation of a botched surgery that ignored surgeons.
The Union is deeply troubled that ACL has acted to obstruct the investigation with senior scientists anxious to cooperate with the investigators to ensure that all of the clinical facts and circumstances surrounding patient safety issues were given to the investigators. That this hasn’t happened should be a matter of major concern to Bendigo Health and the Department of Health.
It is difficult to see how the Safer Care Victoria report can be treated as anything other than compromised by ACL’s actions. The last thing Bendigo Hospital patients need is an ongoing doubt about how safely microbiology testing can be delivered.
It is time Bendigo Health and its Board, the Health Minister and the Department of Health to take firm action to ensure there is no risk to patient safety standards in the hospital. We can’t, as a community, allow a private pathology services contractor such as ACL to dictate what public health services can do about protecting patient safety.