Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 6 Hansard (5 May) . . Page.. 1902..
MS GALLAGHER (continuing):
There is a lot of work going on in the Capital Region Cancer Service at the moment to improve our performance in this area. But one of the issues we do struggle with is workforce. Again, measures are being put in place to address that as well. I am very hopeful that we will see improvement in BreastScreen results in the next quarter.
MR SPEAKER: Mr Hanson, a supplementary question?
MR HANSON: Minister, what have been the outcomes of BreastScreen ACT's investigation of the decline?
MS GALLAGHER: What has been BreastScreen ACT's investigation of the decline in performance? It is down to those reasons that I have just explained. There have been some workforce pressures; there have been more women seeking screening. And that has placed pressure on women being seen on time. But the focus has been on high-risk women being seen and getting their follow-up assessment done.
There is a whole process of work. In fact, the access improvement program, which we implemented across a whole range of areas in the hospital, is now going to BreastScreen to work on all the processes around appointments, assessments and looking at strategies on workforce.
We have opened a new BreastScreen service in Philip and that certainly has taken some pressure off Civic. These are competing pressures on BreastScreen and we are looking at it in terms of a work performance audit right from the beginning of a woman's journey to the end of a woman's journey. As I have said, I am very confident that with the new executive director in the Capital Region Cancer Service that we have appointed, particularly to focus on issues of business continuity and performance, we will see significant improvement in BreastScreen results in the longer term.
MS BRESNAN: My question is for the Minister for Health. It concerns midwifery. Minister, today is International Midwives Day. However, in the ACT we no longer have any independent midwives registered and no-one to perform home births. Would you please advise what strategy the government has in place to deal with the increased proportion of women that could currently be choosing to free-birth?
MS GALLAGHER: Yes. The issues around independent midwives are essentially around insurance. Nobody can get insurance to perform home births, and the government is no exception to that. We have sought insurance for our own midwives who may be put in a position where they attend a birth which occurs at home—not an organised home birth—and we have been unable to get insurance from any provider across the world.
The only option for us as an employer of midwives to cover midwives attending a birth at home is to self-insure. With that comes risk; certainly comes cost. I think it is what insurers call a low-risk, high-cost situation where the chances of something