Explosive Documents Have Revealed Queensland Health Sought to Change the Narrative Around Hospital Data and Remove Historical Comparisons When Establishing a New Performance Website

Changing the narrative: Hospital performance data hidden

Queensland Health sought to change the narrative around hospital data and remove historical comparisons from its performance website.

Explosive documents have revealed Queensland Health sought to change the narrative around hospital data and remove historical comparisons when establishing a new performance website.

Despite Health Minister Shannon Fentiman’s repeated assurances to be more transparent around hospital data, the emails, texts and slides obtained through Right to Information reveal instructions to “remove historical graphs tab” and insert new parameters to ensure “graphs/data displayed from Dec 2020 only”.

One Queensland Health slide contained in an email about two weeks before Ms Fentiman’s budget estimates appearance noted one of the changes would be a “review of existing narrative”.

There were also concerns that coinciding the launch with Ms Fentiman’s budget estimates appearance on August 4 – where she announced the new website was up and running – was problematic.

A briefing note signed by Ms Fentiman states “if the website is published on the day of the public announcement there is a risk that there will be insufficient time to rectify technical issues which may occur as a result of publication”.

Another internal note stated risks with the website’s capabilities including “limited capability to allow extension revisions to be made within a short time frame, risk the information will not be fully understood by consumers”.

Opposition Leader David Crisafulli, who has committed to publishing real-time hospital data within 100 days of the election should he win office, accused the government of attempting to hide the information from Queenslanders.

Health Minister Shannon Fentiman released the latest performance data at Eight Mile Plains satellite hospital in Brisbane’s south at the weekend. Picture: Steve Pohlner

Health Minister Shannon Fentiman released the latest performance data at Eight Mile Plains satellite hospital in Brisbane’s south at the weekend. 

“Deliberately deleting data and a sinister focus on changing the story not the system are the symptoms of a rotting government,” he said.

“This is a deliberate violation of the Coaldrake review by a government hellbent on hiding the truth about the health crisis from Queenslanders.”

Ms Fentiman told The Courier-Mail that Queensland Health had sought to redesign its Hospital Performance website in line with her commitment to providing greater transparency and accountability on health data.

“More consumers than ever before are seeking information to make informed decisions about their healthcare,” she said.

“Data for the June quarter was published within the department’s standard time frames.

“Producing quarterly hospital performance data often requires individual hospitals to validate information, which is why it generally takes five to seven weeks to publish data.”

Ms Fentiman said “significantly more data” was on the website, and that the redesign was the “first stage” of a project to provide more health-related information to the public.

“Work is now under way to develop a new platform to further improve data transparency and make it easier for people to access health-related information,” she said.

“The Hospital Performance website has always been designed to compare the latest quarterly data against the comparable period from the previous year.

“Data prior to October 2020 is publicly available on the Queensland Government Open Data Portal.”

Ms Fentiman did not answer a question on the phrasing of “review of existing narrative”, and what that meant to her.

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Resources:
https://twitter.com/jamiemcintyre21/status/1757718374505968091
https://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/qld-politics/changing-the-narrative-hospital-performance-data-hidden/news-story/f18f8014e10de831feade0b79454ae88