Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2022 Week 09 Hansard (Wednesday, 12 October 2022) . . Page.. 2965 ..
the hospital’s paediatric stream and make a commitment that from now on it will remain permanently open, staffed and operating.
Grieving Canberra mum Katrina Spadafora recently called on the health minister to address the inadequacy of emergency paediatric care in the ACT. In an interview with CityNews last week, she said that Canberra needs a proper paediatric emergency department. On behalf of Ms Spadafora and all Canberra’s parents, carers and sick children, I implore this government to immediately make open and operational our paediatric ED and honour its commitment to provide the best care for Canberra’s sick and most vulnerable kids.
MS STEPHEN-SMITH (Kurrajong—Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Families and Community Services and Minister for Health) (3.41): I move:
Omit all text after “(2) further notes:”, substitute:
“(a) due to the impact of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses among the health workforce, Canberra Hospital’s Emergency Department has been required to operate on a consolidated footprint during periods of staffing pressure;
(b) in order to provide the safest possible care to paediatric patients, paediatric presentations were consolidated into adult acute emergency areas approximately 42 percent of the time between 1 April and 31 July 2022 and 25 percent of the time from 1 August to 8 October 2022;
(c) emergency paediatric care continues to be provided to children and adolescents who present to the Canberra Hospital Emergency Department in a way that recognises their different needs regardless of the area in which a child or adolescent is treated; and
(d) the new Critical Services Building Emergency Department has been designed with consumers and clinical user groups and includes an enhanced paediatric treatment area, expanded paediatric waiting area and courtyard to ensure children and families are comfortable while awaiting emergency treatment; and
(3) calls on the ACT Government to continue to safely optimise use of the paediatric emergency department space at Canberra Hospital.”.
I draw to the attention of the Assembly that the health and wellbeing committee had a briefing at lunchtime today in which this issue was covered. I find it fascinating that Ms Castley was unable to change her speech in any way to reflect the facts that were presented at that briefing, which clearly indicate that her motion is not accurately representing the facts on either the way that the paediatric care space works in the emergency department or the work that Canberra Hospital is doing to ensure that it can be open as much as possible.
To be clear, Ms Castley has twice quoted, I think, from now Senator Gallagher about waiting, treatment and triage areas being the best they can be. We need to be very clear that we are talking about a physical space here that has been closed on occasion in order to ensure that children and young people presenting to the emergency department can be treated as safely as possible.