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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 5 Hansard (31 May) . . Page.. 1297..


MR SPEAKER: Order! Minister, resume your seat, please. There are far too many interjections from both sides, especially Mrs Burke.

Mrs Burke: I have been quiet for the last three seconds.

MR SPEAKER: I have called you to order a couple of times, Mrs Burke. Discontinue interjecting.

MS GALLAGHER: Those beds are required, and more will be required if we are to keep pace with demand particularly for elective surgery and therefore recovery in beds in our hospitals. That is why these beds are being provided and that is why more beds will be provided, so that we can continue to ensure that record demand for elective surgery is met every year in the ACT.

Ambulance service—attendance at non-hospital births

DR FOSKEY: My question is to the minister for emergency services. It is in relation to ambulance officers attending non-hospital births. The community midwifery program had a policy whereby midwives were allowed to attend the birth at home if the mother was unable to make it to the birth centre in time. The midwife could go directly to the woman's house and provide the necessary care to ensure a safe birth.

Due to the government's inability to organise insurance, it revised this policy in November 2005 and withdrew this option from the midwives. Now we have a policy that an ambulance must be called out to the birth and a midwife can attend, although without suitable equipment.

Is the minister aware that this has created a higher risk situation whereby the ambulances do not carry oxygen pipes small enough for a baby, nor syntocinin, a drug which helps reduce the mother's bleeding? Was that risk considered when the decision was made?

MR CORBELL: I thank Dr Foskey for the question. I am not familiar with the details of the full range of equipment and medication that ambulances provide, but I am happy to take that element of the question on notice and provide further information to Dr Foskey.

The policy setting generally for home births is a matter for my colleague the Minister for Health. As I understand the issues about ambulance workers attending directly as a result of that very small number of cases where a woman has gone into labour and is unable to attend the hospital herself—either the delivery is proceeding at a fast pace of for some other reason she is unable to be transported to hospital by other means, which is the normal arrangement that most people undertake, either by their spouse, family or so on—it is appropriate and responsible policy for an ambulance to be called so that the ambulance can attend and assist, if necessary, with the birth.

Clearly, the government's policy in relation to home births—and, again, this is a matter for my colleague the Minister for Health, but I am sure she will not mind if I comment very briefly on this—is that, if births are under the care of the ACT


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