Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 11 Hansard (16 November) . . Page.. 3598..
MS GALLAGHER (continuing):
For September the bypass figures were, I think, eight hours. For October, there was considerably more bypass. I think there was more bypass than we had seen in the previous months and that was largely due to one day when there was bypass for a significant amount of time-I think it was for around 17 hours-as there was a significant workload at the emergency department, which required that response. It is a way of managing the presentations that occur on a daily basis and we have to allow the clinicians responsible for making those decisions to determine the point at which the emergency department needs to have discussions with Calvary Public Hospital, or vice versa, about how to manage non-urgent patients coming in by ambulance.
There have been issues at TCH. Anyone who has spoken to someone who has worked at TCH over the last three weeks will know that it has been a very busy time for the hospital. There has been a significant reduction in the number of discharges, around 15 per cent, which has meant that the availability of beds has not been what it normally is. That means that the emergency department is not able to move people out of the emergency department and into beds as quickly as it would wish, which creates workload pressure at the emergency department.
I am aware of that. I have spoken to people about it. I have asked for advice on what further measures could be taken to support the emergency department and make sure that we are discharging patients on time and that where we have long stay patients and nursing home patients who are staying in beds and who might be more appropriately accommodated elsewhere-for example, in a nursing home-we look at measures to ensure that that is under way, because if the hospital is busy at one end it impacts on every department in the hospital. In October there was less discharging than normal and that created significant pressure for the emergency department in dealing with patients that are needing to be admitted to the hospital via the emergency department.
In terms of whether bypass is a measure of how a hospital is performing, in actual fact bypass is a measure of the fact that the hospital is working very hard, very well and in cooperation with the other public hospital. Find me a document or a report where bypass is used as a performance indicator of any hospital in Australia.
MR SPEAKER: Do you have a supplementary question, Mr Seselja?
MR SESELJA: Yes, thank you, Mr Speaker. Minister, in addition to what you have just told us, what other actions are you now taking to reduce both the occasions of bypass and the amount of time emergency departments spend on bypass?
MS GALLAGHER: I think I covered off that question in my earlier answer. The opposition love the word "bypass"because it frightens everyone; it frightens people in the community. Primarily, it frightens elderly people who think that bypass means the hospital is shut and for them they may make a decision about whether or not to attend the emergency department. Nobody else-no-one I speak to in the hospital system-has the level of concern you guys have around bypass-
Mrs Dunne: Because we should.