Page 1188 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 4 May 2022

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emergency surgery that could be delayed somewhat, or for their elective surgery; then those people, unfortunately, have their surgery delayed.

It is really distressing when this happens. I am always really concerned to hear about this. I visited the Canberra Hospital theatre area and intake area for surgery the other day, and had a conversation with the senior staff there about the processes for managing people who are waiting for their elective or return emergency surgery, and the way that that is done. I refer particularly to the fact that people sometimes are asked to change into gowns and sit around and wait and, as Mrs Kikkert has indicated, fast and then end up not getting their surgery.

Canberra Health Services is doing some work around how to better manage that process. Unfortunately, it is sometimes the case that people are unable to get their surgery because more urgent matters, where people really need lifesaving or limb-saving surgery, do come first.

MRS KIKKERT: Minister, what other reasons are there that staff are so under-resourced that they cannot provide paperwork?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I cannot comment on the individual circumstances, but if the person has not already written to my office, and Mrs Kikkert or Ms Castley have details and would like to encourage that person to write, we will be able to address the individual circumstances on the day that that occurred. I do not know which day that was.

As I have already indicated and as I have said publicly, there are a range of reasons that our hospitals are under significant pressure at the moment. I refer to the number of staff furloughing, not only because of having COVID or being household contacts of someone who has COVID-19, but because of a range of other respiratory illnesses that are circulating in our community, as well as staff being sick and having caring responsibilities. We have also recently seen two long weekends in a row and school holidays, and having staff on planned leave during that period. Canberra Health Services worked really hard to not bring staff back from leave who were on leave. Everyone has been working really hard over the last two years, and when staff have scheduled leave, it is really important that they are able to take that.

In addition to those staffing pressures, around the country we are seeing increased demand. All of the reasons for that are unclear, but it is quite likely that some of that is a result of people delaying care during the COVID-19 pandemic; then their situations escalate to require more significant and acute health care. I was talking to one of my interstate colleagues yesterday about the circumstances that they are experiencing. People would have seen the very significant new investments in the Victorian budget to respond to this situation, and people would have also seen stories around the country of ambulance ramping at emergency departments. This is something we are seeing right across the country.

MS CASTLEY: Minister, what do you say to this particular mum who fasted for the first day to support her son, but told him the next day she needed to eat, just so that she would have the energy to physically stand all day in order to be seen?

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