Amendments to Health Legislation in Victoria


On 23 October 2019 the Health Legislation Amendment and Repeal Act came into effect. Here’s what Victorian Health Service Providers need to know about the new and upcoming changes.

This alert applies to subscribers who provide health services in Victoria and will likely amend multiple topics.

Health Legislation Amendment and Repeal Bill 2019 (Vic)

Please be advised that the Health Legislation Amendment and Repeal Bill 2019 (Vic) (the Bill) passed in the Victorian Parliament on 17 October 2019 and received Royal Assent on 23 October 2019.

Parts 3, 7 and 8 of the Bill, which make relevant amendments to the Health Services Act 1988 (Vic) (the HSA) will commence on 27 August 2020 unless proclaimed earlier. The remainder of the Bill will commence on the day after it receives Royal Assent.

Repeal of Access to Medicinal Cannabis Act 2016 (Vic)

Part 2 of the Bill repeals the Access to Medicinal Cannabis Act 2016 (Vic) (the AMCA). Commonwealth legislation recently introduced a comprehensive regulatory scheme to provide for access to medicinal cannabis, leaving the AMCA redundant. The repeal will avoid potential regulatory duplication.

It is important to note that following the repeal, references to the AMCA will be removed from the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 (Vic), however manufacture licensing and patient access to medicinal cannabis will continue to be regulated under the Victorian drugs and poisons framework in a manner consistent with other Schedule 4 and Schedule 8 drugs.

Amendment of Health Services Act 1988 (Vic)

Offences

Part 3 of the Bill amends section 111 of the HSA, clarifying that it consists of 2 separate offences. A person is prohibited from operating a business that is a health service establishment:

  1. which is not registered as a health service establishment; or
  2. without a current certificate of registration for the health service establishment.

The provision is substantively the same as before, however, it has expanded the offence to capture both individuals and incorporated bodies by replacing ‘proprietor of a health service establishment’ with ‘a person’.

Health service establishment means a day procedure centre, premises at which (or from which) a prescribed health service is provided or a private hospital.

Person includes a body politic or corporate as well as an individual under the Interpretation of Legislation Act 1984 (Vic).

It should be noted that the Bill inserts a maximum penalty for both offences of 240 penalty units (currently $39,652.80) in the case of an individual and 1200 penalty units (currently $198,264.00) in the case of a body corporate.

Information sharing

The Bill inserts new Part 6B into the HSA to include provisions for information sharing to enhance the quality and safety of the Victorian health system. Specifically, Part 8 of the Bill provides that health service entities will be permitted to disclose confidential information for quality and safety purposes.

Importantly, subscribers should be aware that the Bill inserts section 134ZC into the HSA, prohibiting the collection, use or disclosure of confidential information except to the extent necessary to achieve the quality and safety purpose.

Quality and safety purpose includes:

  • collecting and analysing information relating to the quality and safety of health service entities;
  • monitoring and review of the quality and safety of health service entities and associated risks;
  • reporting to the Secretary or to a quality and safety body in relation to the:
    • performance of a health service entity; or
    • risk to an individual or the community associated with the performance of a health service entity;
  • incident reporting and performance reporting in relation to health service entities;
  • incident response, including case review, in relation to health service entities.

Health service entity means:

  • a public health service; or
  • a public hospital; or
  • a multi purpose service; or
  • a denominational hospital; or
  • a private hospital; or
  • a day procedure centre; or
  • an ambulance service within the meaning of the Ambulance Services Act 1986 (Vic); or
  • a non-emergency patient transport service within the meaning of the Non-Emergency Patient Transport Act 2003 (Vic) that is licensed under that Act; or
  • the Victorian Institute of Forensic Mental Health established by section 328 of the Mental Health Act 2014 (Vic); or
  • a prescribed entity that provides health services.

Amendment of Mental Health Act 2014 (Vic)

Part 6 of the Bill amends section 267 of the Mental Health Act 2014 (Vic). Under the old provision, complaints received by mental health service providers needed to be reported to the Commissioner on a biannual basis. The updated section 267 will require the reports to be provided at intervals specified by the Commissioner.

Please click here to access the full Bill.

Contact

For further information please contact the Law Compliance team:

Phone: 1300 862 667

Email: info@lawcompliance.com.au