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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2013 Week 12 Hansard (22 October) . . Page.. 3589..


performance shows a very small improvement of one per cent, but it is going the right way, against a backdrop of increased presentations. So little by little we will continue to improve timeliness. Whilst we already have excellent quality of service, timeliness remains one of those areas where we have got to continue to focus, and we will.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Coe.

MR COE: Minister, what explanation or consolation can you give to the sick and injured Canberrans who have the longest wait for emergency treatment in any state or territory in the country?

MS GALLAGHER: Again, it is simply not true. On average, against national benchmarks, you can draw those conclusions. If you took a similar hospital like the John Hunter Hospital, for example, in Newcastle, which is probably the closest comparison to Canberra Hospital, you would find that their performance is very similar to Canberra Hospital's because of the nature of the hospital that they are.

So my consolation to people in Canberra, against a backdrop of 75 per cent of the world that does not actually have access to hospital treatment, is that they have extraordinarily high-quality health care. If you are sick and urgently need health care, you will get it. If you are less urgent and you present at the Canberra Hospital, you may have a wait attached to that. The staff are working on improving timeliness of care.

Another measure here I will chuck out just for the information of members is: in some jurisdictions, if you receive Panadeine, the clock stops in terms of your timeliness. Many of us have been in hospitals in other jurisdiction where they offer you a Panadeine. You take it; the clock stops. We do not do that in Canberra Hospital or Calvary. You are offered Panadol before you see a doctor. Therefore, the time keeps going. This is the reality of the statistics that we work within.

What we are focused on in Canberra's health system is high-quality care, leaving the doctors and nurses to take decisions about who gets care and when they get care, confident in the fact that our healthcare system is one of the best, if not the best, in the country. I will challenge anyone to dispute that.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mrs Jones.

MRS JONES: Minister, after all the operational and financial promises, why does the emergency department continue to fall behind the rest of Australia?

MS GALLAGHER: I have answered that question. It does not fall behind the rest of Australia. What we are talking about here is the time in which a patient is assessed and seen, perhaps by a nurse, perhaps given Panadol and the clock stops. That is what that measure is talking about. It is not talking about anything beyond that. The strength of the four-hour rule and what it focuses on is that, instead of just what the triage time is and the timeliness till you get your first Panadeine, you are in and out of the hospital in four hours or you are admitted to the hospital in four hours. So it takes away what is an inconsistently applied measure.


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