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Chemotherapy Treatment Error

Adjourned debate on motion of Hon. J.A. Darley:

The Hon. J.A. DARLEY ( 16:36 :18 ): I thank honourable members for their contributions and for the opposition's support on this motion. I would also like to thank Mr Andrew Knox, who has been tireless in his efforts in getting to the bottom of this matter. As mentioned when I introduced this motion, Mr Knox was one of the 10 people who were affected by this bungle. He had been very vocal in wanting to find out who was responsible and he believes that a parliamentary inquiry is integral to that.

The Minister for Health has publicly stated that, whilst he is supportive of a parliamentary inquiry, his preference would be to wait for an outcome from the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency's inquiry. AHPRA is conducting an investigation as a result of complaints they received against eight practitioners who were allegedly involved in the matter. However, Mr Knox has been advised that AHPRA's investigation may take more than a year.

Notwithstanding that the terms of reference for this inquiry differ quite significantly from what AHPRA will be looking at, some people affected by the underdosing simply do not have 12 months up their sleeve. They face the very real possibility of not being here in a year's time, and I believe they deserve all the answers they can get.

Allegations have been made that the culture amongst staff at SA Health allowed for this matter to be covered up, even when the mistake was uncovered. If this is true, this is absolutely disgusting and needs to be exposed immediately. More importantly, if such a culture exists, it needs to be urgently addressed and rectified. Those affected by the underdosing deserve this.

The issue of confidentiality clauses which attempted to gag affected patients is also concerning, as a matter of this magnitude would clearly have great public interest and, frankly, the people of South Australia have a right to know about these things. They should not be dealt with in a cloak-and-dagger way, and further investigation of risk management procedures is warranted. Not only do those affected by the underdosing deserve this, but the people of South Australia deserve this.

I have previously stated my dismay at the government's reaction to this matter, especially when compared to its response to privacy breaches within SA Health. I understand that two SA Health employees have been dismissed for the unauthorised access of patient records, and SA Health's chief executive, Mr David Swan, has stated that anyone else who has been found to be accessing records without authority will be dismissed immediately.

The minister has also made a statement that SA Health would publish details of SA Health staff who had been disciplined for inappropriately accessing patient records. It astounds me that he is not equally outraged about the underdosing of 10 patients, which may cost them their lives. I am also dumbfounded that the minister waited over two months to refer complaints about the eight practitioners to AHPRA, given that this was a key recommendation in the report by Professor Marshall. The government's response to this serious matter needs further investigation. Having a parliamentary inquiry is the least that those who have been affected by the underdosing deserve. With that, I urge honourable members to support this motion.

Amendment carried; motion as amended carried.

The Hon. J.A. DARLEY ( 16:40 :40 ): I move:

That the select committee consist of the Hon. John Dawkins, the Hon. Andrew McLachlan, the Hon. Gail Gago and the mover.

Motion carried.

The Hon. J.A. DARLEY: I move:

That the select committee have power to send for persons, papers and records and to adjourn from place to place and to report on 6 July 2016.

Motion carried.

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