Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 02 Hansard (Tuesday, 23 February 2010) . . Page.. 475 ..
MS GALLAGHER: Nine obstetricians have not left the Canberra Hospital in the last 13 months. I will check the time frame, but it is certainly between 18 months and two years. Four of the resignations were registrars; they were not specialist obstetricians.
MR SPEAKER: Mr Seselja, a supplementary?
MR SESELJA: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Minister, when were you first made aware of these resignations, what advice did you receive and what action did you take?
MS GALLAGHER: I became aware of the resignations as this issue emerged, I believe, in December. I sought advice from my department about whether there were any concerns around the staff turnover in the unit and I was advised that there were not.
MR SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Hanson?
MR HANSON: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Minister, you said of the resignations, “People might say that they have left because they were disgruntled, but nobody has brought that to our attention.” Will you confirm for the Assembly that at no stage were you aware that these resignations were linked to a dissatisfaction with the hospital?
MS GALLAGHER: Yes, I can confirm that. I received four letters from private obstetricians in Canberra on 21 and 22 December. In those letters the exact words being used—and they were letters saying, “We would be prepared to work at the hospital”—I think they all used the same words—“However, we have some concerns with the work environment.”
I wrote back to those obstetricians and asked them to expand on what they meant by “work environment” and they chose not to reply to me. So I can very confidently say to you that in terms of resigning and anyone bringing to my attention that that was due to any issues with being disgruntled in the workplace environment I can honestly answer, as I have a number of times, that none of the specialists or registrars who moved to another training program brought that to my attention.
MR SPEAKER: Mr Hanson, a supplementary question?
MR HANSON: Given that so many obstetricians or registrars had resigned, should you not have been aware that they had those concerns?
MS GALLAGHER: The reality is that there is staff turnover in any large workplace. Whilst the figure “9” sounds dramatic, it actually equated to 1.2 full-time equivalent staff in the unit. I think, even from a hospital management point of view, that would not be unreasonable. However, I think everyone is aware that people, including an obstetrician who has left the unit, have, since last Wednesday, brought to my attention concerns around the work environment at the Canberra Hospital, and that will be appropriately investigated.