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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 8 Hansard (18 August) . . Page.. 3599..


MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

self-government, and quite a number of those years was on the hospital executive. I was also the director of rehabilitation and aged-care services for a little while. I do know about the difficult relationships that you have and the tensions which exist between the clinicians and the management. What we are seeing actually being played out in this hospital at the moment is nothing new. Once upon a time we used to say the only thing consistent about ACT Health was the rate of change.

I have to tell you, Mr Speaker, that they are professionals in there; it is the most magic service. Those of us who have ever been through the maternity service—both of my children and all of my grandchildren and most of my nieces and nephews went through that unit—know that it is a magic unit; it really is. I acknowledge that Mr Hanson actually acknowledged that in his speech. But I caution the chamber about being overly critical of the hospital systems when people here have had relatively limited experience in it, and I do not mean that in a derogatory sense.

I have been through their system and been in some pretty hairy events in the last couple of years. You do not go through ICU and into the coronary care unit without being frightened to death, and you look at the way in which the clinicians work as a team on your behalf, and I have to say, they saved my life. I have also been into Calvary and in other places with life-threatening conditions. Again, I have to confess that it was brilliant.

You hear things like "the medical mafia", "the nursing mafia", all those sorts of things, and I do not treat those terribly seriously. But you have got to remember that this particular service is an emotionally charged one. It is one where the stakes are particularly high. One mistake could cost somebody their life, so of course people are on the knife edge every single day they go to work. We need to admire the nurses, admire the doctors and actually support them. So we need to be very careful with what we say here in this chamber, in the same way we needed to be careful when we were bagging out the disability health workers and the child welfare workers. When Mrs Burke used to do it, I condemned her; I condemned Mr Pratt; and I will condemn anybody who goes a little bit too far. They will have me to answer to.

We need to appreciate that we could not do the job that they are doing. Sometimes if they go a little bit too far, we need to understand that a little bit of tolerance on our part might be a good idea. What we do not need is to engender a lack of morale in the hospital system and constantly look at the negatives. I would say to Mr Hanson: if you have a good look at the hospital, the glass is half full, not half empty. It is doing fantastic things and leading the country.

So I do say to the chamber: please be very measured in the way we actually address issues that are brought to us. Make sure that they are in a context that is brought forward, and do not be tempted to single one particular part of the hospital out for a bit of treatment. Because I can tell you this: what goes around comes around. I will not be able to resist the temptation to give somebody a really good flogging in this place if they do not have that perspective actually put on the table.

I respect what Mr Hanson was saying in the context in which he was saying it, but I urge that piece of caution. On behalf of the hospitals, I say that we do not need that kind of stuff. On behalf of myself, I say thank you to the hospitals.


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