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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 08 Hansard (Wednesday, 18 August 2010) . . Page.. 3516 ..

happily at the Canberra Hospital. Some of the issues around the employment of staff specialists versus the employment of visiting medical officers do cause disagreements between staff from time to time, but I and ACT Health managers have no problem with employing visiting medical officers at the Canberra Hospital. Indeed, in some services they are the only specialists that we have working in that area.

We need them. We are very dependent on them. They work very hard for our public system. In the area of obstetrics, some of the issues have been about VMOs not being able to work the roster because they have private businesses which they need to manage. When you are running a private business you cannot necessarily be at the hospital on the roster. That has impacts for their on-call requirements as well. There has been discussion over a number of years around the best way to staff the obstetrics unit, but there is certainly not a culture of resistance to VMOs at the Canberra Hospital.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Coe, a supplementary question?

MR COE: Given the review did say a “perceived culture of resistance” by the Canberra Hospital to the engagement of VMOs, what impact has that anti-VMO culture at the Canberra Hospital had on patients of VMOs on the list for elective surgery?

MS GALLAGHER: Sorry, in access to—what was the last bit?

MR COE: On the list.

MS GALLAGHER: There is not. To address your question, there is not an anti-VMO culture at the Canberra Hospital. Every hospital needs a mix of clinicians, whether they are VMOs or whether they are staff specialists. There is no resistance to employing VMOs at the Canberra Hospital. It may be down to doctor choice as to whether doctors come on as VMOs or staff specialists, and there are views around whether they should be employed as staff specialists or VMOs, but there is certainly no culture of resistance. We use VMOs all the time to manage a whole range of areas within the hospital, not just the elective surgery waiting list. I think the key word that is being ignored in this is a “perceived” culture—okay—“perceived”.

MR SPEAKER: A supplementary, Mr Hanson?

MR HANSON: Yes, Mr Speaker. Minister, the current lack of VMO appointments at the Canberra Hospital means that women under the care of private obstetricians who require transfer to the Canberra Hospital are almost always unable to maintain a continuity of care. Have your policies let those women down?

MS GALLAGHER: No, they have not. This indeed is a matter I discussed with clinicians at the Canberra Hospital in the obstetric unit recently. It is one of the recommendations that we are consulting with staff over. How we progress some of the recommendations around workforce is going to be very important to the overall success of a territory-wide maternity service. I would like to take the time to talk to people. There are different views around access for private patients with private

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