Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 13 Hansard (26 November) . .
MS GALLAGHER: No. If someone needs emergency surgery and it is clinically determined that they need to have it, and need to have it now, there is no question: a bed will be made available. There is absolutely no question about that. And that is why it is important to keep our bed turnover happening as soon as it can.
In terms of workforce, at times there are pressures. I am aware that if you want to open another theatre, on the weekend in particular, because the trauma load has increased, usually beyond doing 24 hours of emergency surgery on a day, if it goes over that time and other theatres are to be commissioned, if suitably qualified staff cannot be provided, that will limit the amount of emergency surgery that can be done. For example, if you cannot get a second anaesthetist to operate in a second operating theatre, you cannot open the operating theatre. But it is as flexible as it can be.
Absolutely everybody who needs emergency surgery will get their surgery. At times they will have to wait, and for good reason. I had a look at Mr Burton's case in particular. As I understand it there were a number of very serious operations, many of which took hours to perform. It was just one of those things, and it is very hard. For the most part people are really reasonable and patient. I think communication is one issue that we need to look at further, about how we let people know what is happening in the operating theatres so that they do not get frustrated. But in terms of changing decisions that were taken about that particular case, I do not think there is any approach other than the one that was taken.
MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mrs Jones.
MRS JONES: Minister, are people waiting longer than they need to for emergency surgery because priority is given to elective surgery?
MS GALLAGHER: No; absolutely not. Again, every year now there are 11,000 elective surgery operations performed. From memory, in the last calendar year there were 7,214 emergency operations performed. The emergency load is three-quarters of the elective load. On any one day at Canberra Hospital it will take up half of the operations being performed. For the benefit of those opposite, every single broken bone in the region that requires surgery will happen in Canberra Hospital—every single broken bone—because there is no private hospital offering that cover and there are limited offerings at Calvary in relation to emergency surgery.
The hospital does an incredible job. It services the region. I had dinner the other night with the mayors from the surrounding region. Without prompting and out of the blue, all of them spoke of how thankful they were that the Canberra Hospital was here for their communities, servicing them, saving their lives and fixing their broken bones when they need it. The care about that hospital from those people who do not live here was certainly something that I have never seen replicated in this place.
MADAM SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Mrs Jones.
MRS JONES: Minister, why are waiting times for emergency surgery not reported regularly as key performance indicators for TCH?
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