Page 3051 - Week 09 - Thursday, 13 October 2022
Canberra Hospital—ward conditions
MS CASTLEY: My question is to the health minister. I refer to a letter to the editor in the Canberra Times on 23 September from a woman who was admitted to the Canberra Hospital. The lady states that beds were not made during her four-day stay, meals were inedible and she was in a four-bed ward with a locked bathroom. The bathrooms that were available were “continually in an unhygienic condition” and, in one case, a bathroom had faeces and urine on the floor and toilet for in excess of 24 hours. Minister, why are bathrooms locked in a four-person ward and how often does this happen?
MS STEPHEN-SMITH: Obviously, I cannot speak to why that might have been the case in this individual matter, and I would not be expected to have the information about how often that might be the case. Given that it might be the case for a short period of time or a longer period of time, it is probably impossible to get that information.
I can assure Ms Castley that, on reading that letter in the Canberra Times, I raised that matter with Canberra Health Services. I would strongly encourage people who are concerned about their experience at either of our hospitals to make a complaint directly to the health service, but if they want to, also to write to me, and we follow up those complaints.
I have had a number of conversations with Canberra Hospital about some of the feedback that I have received recently in relation to cleanliness of the facilities, and that is an ongoing conversation in relation to that matter. I can assure Ms Castley that I read that letter, I was concerned, and I did raise it with Canberra Health Services. But I would strongly encourage both individuals in the community and members of this place, if they receive that kind of feedback, to pass it on to my office so that we can follow up the specific circumstances. It is quite hard to do that when there is no indication of what specific ward it was or the dates and times of admission. That makes it quite difficult to follow up.
MS CASTLEY: Minister, why are hardworking nurses and doctors forced to put up with working in these conditions?
MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I would reject the premise that these are the standard conditions that people experience, either patients or our hardworking staff. I would say that our cleaners across Canberra Hospital, and indeed Calvary Public Hospital, work very hard to ensure that our facilities are cleaned appropriately, and our nursing staff ensure that people have appropriate supports and facilities in place. Our commitment is to continuous improvement in this space. I certainly would not want any of this to be seen as a reflection on the cleaners, who do a fantastic job at Canberra Hospital and are absolutely part of the team at Canberra Health Services.
MR COCKS: Minister, why do Canberrans feel that they have to resort to letters to the editor to report that they have found Canberra’s hospital in a dirty and disgusting state?