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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 10 Hansard (17 October) . . Page.. 3090..


MS MacDONALD (continuing):

TCH and Calvary are among a small number of hospitals in Australia that have collected all data on all their MRSA and other Staph Aureus blood stream infections as part of a quality-improvement program for many years. Data from 1998 onwards show that there are times when numbers have increased. Such an increase occurred in 2006 (the rate doubled with 25 episodes compared to 12 the year before). After concerted efforts by Infection Control and others, the rates have now again reached baseline levels (a 50% reduction so far year to date in 2007 compared to 2006).

The issue of MRSA is now more complicated because there are increasing numbers of strains of MRSA in the community (that are different to health care related strains) that also cause bloodstream and other infections.

It is not clear where that statement that "the ACT has the 2nd highest rate of MRSA in the country"has arisen. We suspect it from an article in a recent Australian Infection Control journal where a first attempt was made to estimate a population risk for MRSA by states. The NT and the ACT were calculated to have the highest rates. However we believe these comparative rates to be erroneous. The rates were calculated by dividing the number of episodes by the population, so does not take into account that about 25% of our patients are from surrounding NSW. In addition in New South Wales in particular many major hospitals with large numbers of MRSA infections per year did not submit their data to be included.

The information goes on, but I am going to run out of time, Mr Speaker. I do think that it is important that we be careful when we make these statements. Mrs Burke, you might keep that in mind.

Canberra Hospital

Health—oral and maxillofacial surgery

MRS BURKE (Molonglo) (6.06): I thank Ms MacDonald and I apologise to members for getting that wrong. So thank you for putting the record straight.

Mr Corbell today admitted that the ACT government has known about the problems of maxillofacial surgery at the Canberra Hospital for years. He told the Canberra Times today that he was aware of longstanding concerns about oral surgery. However, Mr Corbell has now appealed for more time to fix the situation. He said that appointing an oral surgeon was a complex matter.

How much time does this government need to respond to the report of one of its own agencies, ACT Health, which stated that the present situation is "insufficient and inappropriate"and that this essential service was warranted by the size of the population of the ACT and should be urgently set up? What is the hold-up, minister? It is almost two years since the report was released. How much longer will this take? How many more lives will be affected through needless pain and suffering owing to botched surgery or through misdiagnosis?

How is it acceptable that anyone who is assaulted or suffers a bad fall on the sports field or at home, for example, and is rushed to hospital with severe facial injuries does


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