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Children 'at risk' in botched hospital opening

Qld hospital opening 'put kids at risk'
Photo: Qld hospital opening 'put kids at risk'
A review of the opening of Brisbane's Lady Cilento Children's Hospital has found patients were put at risk, but no one is to blame for the debacle.

Patients were put at risk because Queensland's new children's hospital opened two months too early, a report has found, sparking a political blame game.

The state government review says the rushed November 2014 opening of the Lady Cilento Children's Hospital in Brisbane - drawing in staff and patients from the Mater and Royal Brisbane children's hospitals - could have led to disaster.

The report says in the days leading up to and after the opening, staff were still being hired, medical equipment hadn't been delivered and the computer and phone systems weren't working.
Linen and food services hadn't been properly organised and there was a high risk of infection due to a lack of hand gel and soap dispensers.

The clinical staff only met for the first time on the opening day, November 29, while the rooftop helipad was unusable.

Report author Professor Deborah Piccone says patients were at risk, but the staff assured none were harmed.

She says delaying the opening by just two months would have avoided most of the problems.

"If there had been another ... six weeks to eight weeks, it's hard to call, the ICT (information and communication technology) thing would've been sorted, all those things would've been sorted," she said.

Health Minister Cameron Dick praised staff for working tirelessly to ensure no patients were affected.

"The staff of this hospital are the real heroes," he added.

While the review didn't attribute any blame, Mr Dick scolded his predecessor, current Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg.

"The minister stands at the top, he must take responsibility for what happens in his portfolio," he added.

But Mr Springborg said the report showed he was always advised by the board about the opening.

He deflected blame to the former Beattie Labor government for commissioning the hospital in 2006 without a business case after "dog's breakfast thought bubble".

"It was always going to be a board trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear," the Liberal National Party leader said.

He said the report mirrored a review by the hospital board down in May and labelled it as a Labor-led "witch hunt that didn't find any witches".

Amid the botched opening, only one figure has fallen - Children's Health Queensland chair Susan Johnston, who oversaw the development of the stand-alone hospital.

Despite being praised by both Prof Piccone and Mr Springborg for her efforts to deal with the mishaps, and vindicated by both reports, Ms Johnston resigned last week.

All parties agree the hospital is now running smoothly.

The government will implement on all recommendations of the review, including establishing an independent commissioning group to oversee the opening of future hospitals and medical facilities.


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