Consideration of Auditor-General Report 6: 2023-24 - Health 2023


Role of the Auditor-General 

The role of the Auditor-General is to provide Parliament with independent assurance of public sector accountability and performance. This is achieved through reporting to Parliament on the results of its financial and performance audits.

About the Auditor-General Report

View:Auditor-General Report 6: 2023-24 - Health 2023

This report summarises the audit results of Queensland Health entities which include the Department of Health (the department) and 16 hospital and health services (HHSs). It also summarises the audit results for 13 hospital foundations, 4 other statutory bodies, and 2 entities controlled by other health entities. 

The Queensland Audit Office (QAO) found that financial statements prepared by all Queensland Health entities are reliable and comply with relevant requirements, and that the timeliness of tabling of all annual reports by the Minister had improved on the previous year.

The QAO found that internal systems and processes are generally effective. However, the QAO identified that one HHS had ineffective controls over the approval of unplanned overtime which requires urgent remedy, and that there are internal control deficiencies relating to approval of rosters and overtime at 4 other HHSs. The report also notes that the QAO continues to identify deficiencies in health entities’ information security and procurement controls.

The QAO reported that the health sector had not been able to operate within its original approved expenditure budgets for the year because of rising costs of service delivery and capital works. State and federal funding for HHSs increased, except for COVID-19-related funding, which decreased.

The QAO noted that workforce challenges, related to high levels of staff overtime and sick leave, continued, with shortages of staff in some areas.

HHSs reported that anticipated maintenance required for their buildings and equipment had increased by 32 per cent since 2021-22. The QAO found that failure to complete maintenance works risks deterioration in the condition of health facilities, and that further action is needed by health entities to prioritise high-risk maintenance, as recommended in its Health 2020 (Report 12: 2020–21). 

The QAO found that while HHSs see more patients (increasing in 2022-23 by 9 per cent) less are being seen within the clinically recommended time. The QAO reported that the proportion of outpatients seen by a specialist within clinically recommended times is the lowest it has been in the last 8 years and that Queensland Health did not meet the targets for any of the 3 urgency categories. The Queensland Ambulance Service (which is part of the department) continues to face growing demand for all its services, including the most urgent ones, and the time it takes ambulance crews to transfer patients into the care of emergency departments continues to be well below target.

The report makes recommendations to the Department of Health and HHSs which focus on strengthening controls over rostering and overtime, and asset maintenance. 

Referral to Committee 

Standing Order 194B provides that the Committee of the Legislative Assembly shall as soon as practicable after a report of the Auditor-General is tabled in the Assembly refer that report to the relevant portfolio committee(s) for consideration. 

The committee is responsible under section 94 of the Parliament of Queensland Act 2001 for assessing the integrity, economy, efficiency and effectiveness of government financial management by examining government financial documents and considering reports of the Auditor-General.

The Committee of the Legislative Assembly referred this Auditor-General’s report to the committee on 15 February 2024.

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