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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 9 Hansard (18 September) . .

Page.. 2932..


public accounts committee association inviting the regional parliaments, whether on a biannual basis or intermittently, to attend national meetings, to help at a more local level to establish and instil good parliamentary committee procedures within Kiribati. That would be a step that would not just potentially help their members of parliament gain the experience that is required but also save the parliament over there some substantial cost of having to send their three PAC members over to Westminster every second year for what is a lengthy journey and, one would imagine, a very expensive one.

I would like to again pass on my thanks to Janice for much of the work that she did in organising the trip, chaperoning us and making sure that we did not get lost or come into any bad situations. It was a very interesting and fulfilling trip that I think all who travelled appreciated.

Sitting suspended from 12.23 to 2.30 pm.

Questions without notice

Canberra Hospital—bed occupancy rates

MR HANSON: My question is to the Minister for Health. On 1 September 2014 the clinical director of the emergency department at the Canberra Hospital, Dr Michael Hall, said current patient numbers are "unsafe" and "unsustainable". When referring to bed occupancy rates, he said that 95 per cent is unsafe as it increases time in hospital, it increases costs, it increases complications and in fact it increases mortality. On 11 September 2014 the executive director of the Canberra Hospital emergency department wrote in an email to staff that the hospital was frequently operating at levels over 95 per cent and said some of the strategies that they had employed "might be viewed as less than perfect solutions for the emergency department and the broader hospital". Minister, yesterday Dr Brown, the Director-General of Health, took the extraordinary step of issuing a media release urging Canberrans not to use the emergency department. She said: "ACT Health is encouraging people with non life or limb threatening injuries to use alternative services." Minister, after 13 years of Labor government and eight years with you as health minister, why is the Canberra Hospital facing this crisis?

MS GALLAGHER: The Canberra Hospital is not facing a crisis, as Mr Hanson continues to argue and tries to encourage concern about across the community. In terms of the information that went out yesterday—

Mr Hanson interjecting

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, Mr Hanson! You have asked the question.

MS GALLAGHER: it was not an extraordinary step. It is a step that is taken more than twice a year, from my memory, at times when the hospital gets this busy. A standard media release is issued to remind people that there are other options to the emergency department and to treat the emergency department as being for emergencies. You will find that this is a step that is used in every single other jurisdiction across Australia when pressure gets tight in hospitals. In fact I saw in the


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