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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 5 Hansard (25 May) . . Page.. 2225..

Food poisoning hotline

(Question No 1442)

Mr Smyth asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 31 March 2004:

(1) Has the 24 Hour Food Poisoning Hotline ever been inoperable in the calendar years (a) 2002, (b) 2003 and (c) 2004;

(2) If so, (a) on how many occasions and (b) for how long was the hotline inoperable in those years;

(3) What are the reasons for the hotline not being available 24 hours at all times;

(4) Have any glitches in the system been fixed;

(5) Is it the case that over the Christmas break a family, all suffering from what appeared to be food poisoning, tried to contact the hotline and found the line rang out numerous times;

(6) Is the hotline monitored to ensure it is always available to Canberrans;

(7) What should be the next port of call for residents who ring the hotline and no one answers.

Mr Corbell

: The answer to the member's question is:





(2) Following the 2003 bushfires, the Health Protection Service, who maintain an after hours phone service that deals with issues such as food poisoning complaints was not able to maintain or access this system. The system was inoperable from 18/1/03 until 22/1/03.

The Health Protection Service after hours phone service was also not operational from 24 December 2003 until just after 2pm on 29 December 2003.

(3) The system failure in January 2003 was as a result of the destruction of the Health Protection Service facility at Holder during the 2003 bushfires. The system was reinstated following the temporary relocation of the Health Protection Service to the Moore Street Health Building on 22 January 2003

The system in place in December 2003 was set manually at COB of each day. Internal procedures then provided for a system check (following activation) by administration staff to ensure that the system had been successfully set. An investigation into the December system failure confirmed that the system was properly set on 24 December but that it was subsequently deactivated. The system was reset on 29 December.

(4) A new system has since been implemented that has automated the phone diversion for all after hours contact.

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