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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 5 Hansard (10 May) . . Page.. 1796 ..


Canberra Hospital—adult mental health unit

MRS DUNNE: My question is to the Minister for Mental Health. I refer to the draft accreditation report into the Canberra Hospital, which found that mental health patients were placed at extreme risk due to the failure to carry out robust reviews following four suicides in the mental health ward and one in a general medical ward. It also found that there was no regular review of high risk areas within the Canberra Hospital. Minister, why has the Canberra Hospital placed patients at extreme risk by failing to conduct robust reviews into the suicide of patients at the hospital?

MR RATTENBURY: Yes, this is a very concerning element of the accreditation report, one I was disappointed to read but one that we are taking decisive action to address. Mrs Dunne is right to cite the issues she has cited. In particular, for ACT Health, one of the key concerns raised in the accreditation report is the failure to adequately address ligature points.

I am taking two approaches to that. One is to make sure the work gets done immediately. I think that is the most important thing. We need to make sure that we do that as quickly as possible. There is obviously a degree of physical infrastructure involved, so it will take a little bit of time, but work has already commenced. Significant progress is being made in removing those potential ligature points and putting new infrastructure in place.

The second part of it goes to some of Mrs Dunne's question. She is interested in the blaming part. Clearly, there needs to be some assessment of why this work was not done sooner. I will get to that in good time. But my primary focus at the moment is on addressing the work that needs to be done and ensuring that ACT Health and the ACT hospital gets its accreditation within the 90-day period ahead of the advanced accreditation study in July.

MRS DUNNE: Whilst passing over the snide comments in that, minister, why is there no regular review of high risk areas in the adult mental health unit? Why did it take the accreditation review to point out this failing?

MR RATTENBURY: The accreditation report has recognised that and we are now putting mechanisms in place to ensure that that does not happen again. The government has accepted, and I have accepted, all of the recommendations in the accreditation report. As has been outlined by the minister for health, and in comments I have also made, we now have a clear timetable to deliver on all of those recommendations.

MR WALL: Minister, why is that issues within the adult mental health unit have to exceed crisis point, such as high occupancy rates and staff turnover, before action is actually taken to address them?

MR RATTENBURY: If I go to the premise of Mr Wall's question, it should not take that, and this work should have been done sooner. I am disappointed that it was not, and that is a matter we will reflect on very carefully. But, as I said, my primary focus


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