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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 12 Hansard (22 November) . . Page.. 3761..

MS GALLAGHER (continuing):

Assembly with more information on the first part of your question in relation to bookings for 2007 but I have not been advised of any problems related to the new date.

I am aware of problems with PAS, the implementation of the patient administration system, which has had problems with booking arrangements, and some areas have had to implement manual booking systems to deal with some of the problems, although I think the last of those areas will be addressed in the next couple of weeks. Whether it is done manually or through the computer, there should be no reason why bookings are not being made for 2007.


MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Minister for Health. Minister, according to the Impacted website run by Canberra hospital emergency department staff, the internal disaster plan was activated by hospital staff as a last resort earlier in November when the emergency department was unable to process any new arrivals due to overcrowding. As if this situation was not worrying enough, hospital management then "quickly overrode and cancelled the internal disaster plan—hush, hush, we don't want anyone to know we are not coping". Minister, why are staff in the emergency department not coping?

MS GALLAGHER: We have had a discussion in the Assembly in the past week where I certainly have spoken about how busy the Canberra hospital has been over the last six weeks, and there are a number of reasons for that. The pressure that the rest of the hospital is under is being felt in the emergency department because there has been access block in the hospital. As I said last week, the discharges through the hospital are down quite considerably for this time of year, particularly if you look at it month by month. We have a number of long-stay patients. The access block is particularly relevant to people over the age of 75 and the emergency department is feeling the stress of that.

My understanding is that when management, in line with the protocols that exist, went to investigate or respond to code yellow, which is the internal disaster mechanism, that was called last week by the emergency department staff, it was overturned fairly quickly. Certainly, the advice to me was that the emergency department was under stress but it did not qualify for a code yellow that it had been incorrectly called and that the issues were addressed very quickly across the hospital. I think that was on Wednesday last week.

I have had a look at the Impacted website. I look at it from time to time because I think it is an area from which you can certainly get an insight into the views of nurses. There is quite a bit of change going on in the emergency department. I notice there is a bit of criticism on that website about the implementation of team nursing, and that could have been contributing to the stress, because in the last couple of week nurses have moved to a team nursing model. Before this regime was implemented, my advice from a nurse in the emergency department was that this was going to be a very positive change to how they dealt with patients in the emergency room. I can now see that a couple of weeks on there is some criticism of that regime so I think we have to look at that.

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