Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 13 Hansard (4 December) . . Page.. 3851..
MR SPEAKER: Order! Mr Smyth.
MS GALLAGHER: Obviously I have answered Mrs Dunne's question to her satisfaction, as she has left her chair. We have done a number of things in the emergency department. The figures are declining. I am very pleased with how the figures are going. I do not stand here and say that there is a perfect system. We are constantly looking at ways to improve the system. In fact, the second appropriation has some more money for the emergency department, to increase our responsiveness there. But in terms of health performance—and I am happy to keep talking about this through question time—and the emergency department access block, the extra beds are all reducing patients' length of stay in the emergency department. There is absolutely no way that you can twist that and come up with a different scenario.
Hospitals—emergency medicine unit
MRS BURKE: My question is to the Minister for Health. Minister, is it true that you are proposing to transfer patients from the acute ward to the emergency medicine unit in the emergency department of the hospital? If so, how will this change the way in which the EMU operates now and into the future?
MS GALLAGHER: I believe the question is around acute in-patients in the hospital.
Mrs Burke: The acute ward of the emergency department.
MS GALLAGHER: I see. I am not sure from the question whether it is about patients coming into the emergency department who may be seen—
Mrs Burke: The acute ward.
MS GALLAGHER: There are acute beds in the emergency department. That is part of the bed profile in the emergency department. There is not necessarily an acute ward but there are beds there for acute patients. The emergency management unit is, as you would know, part of the emergency department and from time to time people will move to the emergency management unit based on clinical decisions. There are different reasons why people go there, but I imagine that, if we are experiencing pressures in the acute area of the emergency department and we need more beds freed up for more patients, an obvious place to look is right near the emergency department, where there are more beds. I do not have a problem at all, at times of pressure and based on appropriate clinical decisions, with the beds that are provided in the emergency management unit being used if required. It makes sense. Are we meant to have people not being able to get into a bed whilst leaving beds vacant because they are there for a particular purpose?
I thought you would have supported flexible use of beds, depending on the patient profile that was coming into the emergency department. It seems common sense to me and pretty straightforward. I understand there is ongoing dialogue with the clinicians about this, but for me, as health minister, if at times of need there are patients that are suitable to go there for a period of time whilst waiting for a bed in the hospital or a transfer to another unit, I would have no problem with that.