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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 10 Hansard (24 August) . . Page.. 4027..


MR CORBELL (continuing):

residential land and ultimately decreasing housing affordability. Again, it is an amendment that undermines the central tenet of this legislation and is not one that the government can support.

Debate interrupted in accordance with standing order 74 and the resumption of the debate made an order of the day for a later hour.

Sitting suspended from 12.35 to 2.30 pm.

Unparliamentary language

Statement by Speaker

MR SPEAKER: During the last sitting, following a point of order from Mrs Dunne, I undertook to review Hansard in relation to some words used-"a bloody suppurating boil." I rule that they ought to be withdrawn, Chief Minister.

MR STANHOPE: The comments were made in general and were not directed to an individual, but I will withdraw them.

Questions without notice

Hospitals-access block

MR SMYTH: My question is to the Minister for Health. The ACT branch of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine has noted that access block has become the "new normal" in the ACT health system. The Canberra Times has published figures showing that half of all patients admitted to Calvary Hospital in June were stuck in the bottlenecked emergency department for more than eight hours before acute beds could be found for them. The figures for the Canberra Hospital show that 25 per cent, or 500 people, were waiting for over eight hours, supporting claims of the emergency professionals about the poor state of our hospital system. Why has access block become the so-called new normal in our health system under Labor, as stated by health professionals and as evident from your own statistics?

MR CORBELL: Access block is a cause for concern in our public hospitals, as it is in public hospitals right around the country. Indeed, just today I had a discussion with Australasian College for Emergency Medicine representatives along with the director of the emergency department at Canberra Hospital. Both of them indicated that the build-up to access block has been occurring for a significant period of time, certainly longer than the period of any particular government. I am not going to seek to play the game of saying that certain things should or should not have happened in the past. The important thing is that we focus on trying to fix the concerns that doctors and nurses have raised.

That is exactly the approach the government is intent on undertaking. Last night, the chief executive of ACT Health, Dr Sherbon, presented to the regular meeting of the ACT Clinical Council at the Canberra Hospital a range of options to improve access from the emergency department for those people admitted into the ED and needing to be admitted to a ward. The range of options being considered, and which have been welcomed by a number of people, includes the re-establishment of a discharge lounge in the Canberra Hospital. A discharge lounge would permit people currently waiting to be discharged from hospital, instead of waiting in their beds on the day of discharge, to go to the


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