Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 7 Hansard (23 August) . . Page.. 1940..
Mrs Burke: That is what they are telling me.
MR SPEAKER: Come back to the subject matter of the question. Leave aside the subject matter of the interjection and come back to the subject matter of the question.
MS GALLAGHER: This government's record on supporting nurses is strong. We have an agreement about to go out that makes our nurses No 1 or No 2 in the country in terms of pay. We have agreement about nursing workloads. We have no industrial dispute. We have got fantastic retention rates. We have got better recruitment rates than we have got separation rates.
Yes, we have a workforce that is under pressure. Of course they are. Anyone who has looked at health in the past two months will have seen that anyone who is working at the hospital at the moment is extremely busy, and that places pressure on nurses because the largest workforce in the hospital is nurses. I do not discount that there have been issues around workload for nurses and stress while at work. But when you look at the data in terms of how we are faring, in terms of recruitment, in terms of numbers leaving the profession and in terms of salary and conditions, we have done very well in addressing many of the nurses' concerns.
The nurses have also come to the party in addressing some of the government's concerns. Overall I am not at all concerned that there are systemic concerns within the nursing workforce. I do not discount that from time to time issues arise that need resolving, and we deal with those as they arise.
MR SESELJA: My question is to the Minister for Health. Minister, you will recall that two weeks ago 12 Gold Coast students were admitted to Canberra Hospital as they were all suffering from an outbreak of the flu. However, I understand that they were not admitted to paediatrics; rather, they were admitted to the paediatric oncology day unit. Minister, can you confirm that these children were admitted to an oncology unit? If so, why? If not, where were they admitted and how were they treated?
MS GALLAGHER: There were 16, not 12, who were admitted, and they were part of a group of 46 who were seen at the hospital. They were kept in the paediatric day unit, and that was primarily because they were infectious—they were all suspected of having influenza. As you would be aware, when you have influenza, you do not like to expose everyone else in the hospital to it, so they were kept in a contained area. In fact, they were not even seen in the emergency department; they were seen in part of the discharge lounge of the hospital, in the home area. That was precisely because we had infection control measures in place which involved reducing contact with other people involved.
Mr Seselja: Was it oncology or just paediatrics?
MS GALLAGHER: I will confirm whether it was oncology. I know it was the paediatric day unit. That may well provide oncology services. Because it was a Friday afternoon by the time they were admitted, there was no-one else in the paediatric day