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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 2 Hansard (4 March) . . Page.. 742..


Health-Canberra Hospital

MRS CROSS: My question is directed to the Minister for Health. By way of background, it is necessary for me to first read a brief letter I have received. It states:

I writing to complain about the services provided by the Canberra Hospital casualty department.

My daughter was taken to the Canberra Hospital by ambulance on 17 February this year when she was injured at school. Due to the lack of resources and as my daughter's injury was not life threatening, we were advised that there would be a long wait.

This was at 5 pm, so I rang my own doctor and was able to get an appointment at 10 am the following day. There were patients waiting since 10 am that morning. I informed the nurse that I could see my own doctor the following day and she explained that that would be earlier then I would see the doctor in the casualty department.

They kindly lent me the wheelchair to enable me to get my daughter to the car and she has received excellent medical attention from my doctor, external radiologist and physiotherapist.

Our wait at casualty could have been over 17 hours. NSW ambulances were continually bringing in very ill people, which naturally pushed the less ill patients down the cue.

I was very annoyed to hear Simon Corbell's reply last week, to complaints that our casualty department is in serious trouble. My experience on the 17th February 2004 certainly demonstrated to me that we need to address the Canberra Hospitals lack of resources as an URGENT priority by our local and federal government.

I will not read the rest because it contains private details. That is the letter.

My question to Minister Corbell is: where does the truth lie between what is in this constituent's letter and what was going on on radio on 18 February when you claimed there were no real problems with queues in casualty at the Canberra Hospital, despite the recent spate of complaints about growing queues of patients waiting to be treated? Both sides cannot be right.

MR CORBELL: I have never said that there are no queues of people waiting for treatment at our emergency department. I said that, when you look at the national averages of waiting times for people being treated according to their triage category, you see that Canberra Hospital is right at the top. Canberra Hospital is one of the best performing hospitals in the country when it comes to meeting the nationally agreed criteria for waiting times based on triage category.

That is not to say that there are not delays in our emergency department; of course there are-there always have been; always will be. The emergency department, by its very nature, deals with an uncertain volume of people coming in. You can have a heap of very seriously ill people come in within 10 minutes. You can then have fewer people with less


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