Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 12 Hansard (30 October) . .
Questions without notice
Canberra Hospital—bed occupancy rates
MR HANSON: My question is to the Minister for Health. Minister, in the Canberra Times today the AMA ACT president describes "battles for beds" in the emergency department and the women and children's hospital at TCH and warns that the situation is set to worsen. She goes on to say that if staff "are rushed off their feet all the time ... mistakes get made" and that this "has a huge impact on staff stress". Minister, does TCH frequently reach unsafe levels of bed occupancy?
MS GALLAGHER: As the Leader of the Opposition knows, the target for bed occupancy is 90 per cent across the ACT health system. At times, and that is why it is a yearly reported figure, the numbers go above that—
Mr Hanson interjecting—
MADAM SPEAKER: Order, Mr Hanson! You have asked your question.
MS GALLAGHER: and at times they go below that. What I can assure people who use the hospitals is that if they need admission to the hospital, they will be admitted to the hospital, and they will be cared for by the most professional and dedicated staff. The comments by the president of the local AMA are in line with the AMA's position, which is that 85 per cent is the safe way to run a hospital system, and I think there is a balance between having beds available and running an efficient system. In Victoria, for example, hospitals are funded at having beds occupied 95 per cent of the time. There is no national agreement on bed occupancy. There is no national agreement on how to calculate bed occupancy. And bed occupancy is not a figure that is used to measure the overall performance of the health system anywhere in the country.
MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Hanson.
MR HANSON: Minister, is the unsafe overcrowding at TCH causing mistakes to be made, as asserted by the president of the AMA?
MS GALLAGHER: I thank the Leader of the Opposition for the question and I would go back to my previous answer, when I said that anyone requiring hospital admission and care will be admitted to either Calvary or Canberra Hospital and will be treated with the utmost professionalism and care. All steps are made to reduce pressure on staff.
I would say that we have the best nursing to patient ratios of any jurisdiction. We have worked hard with the ANF to reach agreement on that. There are more nurses working in our hospitals than there are with the nurse to patient ratio in New South Wales, for example. We are mindful that, when the hospital is busy, staff are under additional stress. Where we can manage that, it is managed.
Canberra Hospital remains very busy. I have just had a meeting with the head of Little Company of Mary Health Care around looking at further ways to improve efficiency
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