MORE than $2.2 million will be provided to families and individuals affected by audiology care at Townsville University Hospital following the completion of a clinical review.
Minister for Health, Shannon Fentiman, recently announced the health service will offer one-off ex-gratia payments to 97 families and individuals who required additional testing and follow-up care.
The payments will be split into two categories; Individuals and families of children who have experienced the most significant impacts will be offered $50,000, while individuals and families of children who have been recalled for additional testing will be offered $5,000.
The independent investigation into audiology care at the hospital, commissioned in June, is now complete delivering 25 recommendations.
Townsville Hospital and Health Service (THHS) Chief Executive Kieran Keyes said investigators raised several concerns relating to an understanding of clinical roles and accountabilities, including line management, professional supervision, and operational performance.
“I want the community to be reassured audiology services are now in safe hands with the team committed to the ongoing delivery of care for north Queensland children,” he said.
“The investigators acknowledged the care delivered by the hospital’s broader audiology team was of an appropriate standard and the team should be recognised for their advocacy and hard work in delivering audiology practice to north Queensland.
“This has been a very difficult time for our hospital as we come to terms with the findings, but we will continue to show up for our patients and families every day as we move forward.”
The initial review followed concerning audit results in the audiological care delivered to two groups of children, including babies who required follow-up after their newborn hearing screen and children whose cochlear implants were programmed at the hospital. Adult patients were also affected following a broadening of the audit’s scope.
The findings of the investigation found clinical care and oversight offered to audiology patients did not meet minimum standards and identified inconsistencies in the quality of care.
The Townsville Hopsital and Health Service will continue to work with Children’s Health Queensland and Cochelar Australia to ensure optimal delivery of audiology services.
One staff member was stood down while the matter was looked at more closely, and one no longer works for the health service.
The ex-gratia payments do not prevent individuals and families making individual personal injury claims and the health service is happy to support families to lodge these.
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