Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 8 Hansard (17 August) . . Page.. 3384..
MS GALLAGHER (continuing):
the Canberra Hospital. I think they can always be improved, but some of the issues to do with our elective work are about capacity and how we share the work across Calvary and Canberra hospitals. They are, again, issues that we are currently working on in terms of how we deliver all the surgery that we have got to deliver over the next 12 months.
In terms of the emergency department, there has been consistent improvement in emergency department targets and I put that very much down to the staff and management within the Canberra Hospital, and credit should be given where credit is due.
MRS DUNNE: My question is to the Minister for Health. I refer to the review of service delivery and clinical outcomes at public maternity units in the Australian Capital Territory, which found that the increase in births over the past five years has not been accompanied by a commensurate increase in staffing and that both midwifery and medical staff are currently carrying unsustainable workloads. Minister, why is it that midwifery and medical staff are both carrying unsustainable workloads?
MS GALLAGHER: I thank Mrs Dunne for the question. I can report that the first budget request I received for extra resources for the obstetrics and gynaecology area within the Canberra Hospital was in late October last year, and $8.6 million was put into this year's budget to deal with that, based on increased numbers of births.
When you look at the increases in births across the Canberra Hospital and Calvary Public Hospital, Calvary Public Hospital has had a very minor increase in the number of births that they are doing in the public hospital. In relation to the Canberra Hospital, there was an increase in 2003-04 that was not sustained; then birth numbers went down. They went up slightly again in 2005, although to nothing more than they were in 2002. But since the end of 2008 and 2009-10 there has been an increase of about 300 births a year at the Canberra Hospital.
The additional resources that were put in this year's budget will address those workload problems. Some of the medical staff have already been appointed. A team of six midwives is being recruited, but there is an international shortage of midwives, so that is a difficult area to recruit in. The idea is to get a team-based midwifery approach similar to that of the community midwives program that will work in delivery suites, which gives women continuity of care in the antenatal and postnatal period. That recruitment is underway. In the meantime, I have instructed the department to seek agency staff to provide extra support to the midwives at Canberra Hospital.
MRS DUNNE: A supplementary question, Mr Speaker.
MR SPEAKER: Yes, Mrs Dunne.
MRS DUNNE: Minister, why did you allow this problem to develop during the time of your responsibility as Minister for Health, and how is it that you have only just attempted to address this issue, after five years?