Investigation into the temporary closure of Alfred Health's adult lung transplant program

11 Oct 2012

This report examines the reasons for the cancellations/reductions, given varying explanations presented to the Standing Committee, the Alfred Health Board and the media and in particular the degree to which funding of the transplant unit was responsible.

This report resulted from a referral on 29 March 2012 by the Legal and Social Issues References Committee of the Legislative Council (the committee) under section 16 of the Ombudsman Act 1973 (the Ombudsman Act) in relation to the temporary closure of Alfred Health’s adult lung transplant program in September 2011.

In February 2011, the committee commenced an inquiry into ‘options and mechanisms to increase organ donation in Victoria’.

In April 2011, in a written submission to the inquiry, Alfred Health requested ‘an increase in the funding provided for transplantation to meet the increase in demand’. On 8 September 2011, at a public hearing of the committee, Alfred Health further highlighted the need for additional resources for the program.

On 22 September 2011, Alfred Health’s adult lung transplant program was closed, re-opening on 28 September 2011. Alfred Health informed the media that the closure was due to a high workload in the program.

The committee called Mr Andrew Way, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Alfred Health to a hearing on 2 December 2011 to give evidence about the closure. He explained that the program was closed on a recommendation from his clinical staff that they ‘could not actually continue to admit people’.

On 7 March 20121, Channel 7 News reported on a briefing provided by Mr Way to the Alfred Health board about the closure, dated 5 October 2011, which Channel 7 obtained under the Freedom of Information Act 1982.

The committee subsequently identified what it considered were inconsistencies in Mr Way’s evidence to the committee and his briefing to the Alfred Health board about the reasons for the closure. In particular, the committee was concerned about the role that funding played in the closure.

This report resulted from the Victorian Ombudsman examining these concerns.

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