Proposal to make Qld Legionella water testing public

LEGIONELLA test results from Queensland's public and private hospitals and aged care facilities will be released publicly under proposed Palaszczuk government legislation.

The laws will be introduced to parliament early this year and follow the recent Legionella outbreak at Hervey Bay's Oral Health and Cancer Care Centre and at Hervey Bay Hospital in May last year.

A Rockhampton woman was diagnosed with legionnaires' disease, caused by Legionella bacteria, in a separate case in August last year.

The woman said she was exposed to the bacteria from a load of soil.

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 test 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 on smaller providers. - APN NEWSDESK

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