Legionella test results could be made public

WHILE the Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service waits to receive the follow-up results from their latest Legionella outbreak, the State Government has proposed every Legionella test result in Queensland will soon be made public.

Queensland Health Minister Cameron Dick yesterday announced every hospital and aged care facility in Queensland will be made to reveal all Legionella results under proposed legislative changes to be introduced into Parliament early this year.

The laws follow an outbreak at Hervey Bay's Oral Health and Cancer Care Centre two weeks ago and at Hervey Bay Hospital in May last year.

Private hospitals are not currently required to inform the Health Department if they receive a positive water test for Legionella bacteria and the department is also legally prohibited from publicly releasing some information about private hospitals.

"Under these changes, hospitals and residential aged care facilities will be required to conduct regular tests for the Legionella bacteria and those results will be made public," Health Minister Cameron Dick said.

"What we are doing is putting in place a framework which is more transparent and will give the public more confidence that hospitals are regularly testing their water supplies for Legionella bacteria.

"There have been some recent events that have caused me to look closely at this matter and have prompted me to set up a legislative framework."

All results would be sent to the department every three months then those reports will be released to the public.

The legislation would give the department the power to direct amendments to a hospital or aged care facility's water quality risk management plan if it was found to be inadequate.

Otherwise, those that do not comply could be fined $24,000.

All hospitals were required to initiate water quality risk management plans in 2013 following the first death from Legionella bacteria acquired at a Queensland hospital.

Aged care facilities would also be required to develop plans if the legislation passes, so the government has proposed a transition period to minimise the impact.

The WBHHS expects to receive the latest test results today.

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