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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 05 Hansard (Tuesday, 8 May 2018) . . Page.. 1568 ..

current financial year, 2017-18, our performance did lift briefly after the winter season last year. What we have already seen in the first quarter of this year is a decline in that performance. We will await the final full financial year’s performance to see how we have tracked across the financial year.

Centenary Hospital for Women and Children—complaints

MS LAWDER: My question is to the Minister for Health and Wellbeing. I refer to reports in the media of 26 April 2018 about a letter sent to you by midwives at the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children. The letter says:

It is frustrating and upsetting to feel so helpless in such a poorly managed and impossibly busy work environment, unable to provide the care we know we should and feeling consistently exhausted physically and emotionally. The negative effects on patients and staff are seen daily. It is only a matter of time before there is an adverse outcome for a mother, baby or staff member.

Minister, why are the lives of mothers and babies at the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children being put at risk in a poorly managed, understaffed and overworked environment?

MS FITZHARRIS: The letter was sent to a media outlet and copied to me and quite a long list of other people and organisations. Immediately on receipt of the letter, ACT Health followed up. They held a number of staff forums to openly discuss the issues raised in the letter.

It was certainly of enormous concern to me. Subsequent to that letter having been received, I have visited the Centenary hospital. I have also met with senior staff from the Centenary hospital and been briefed on the number of challenges facing Centenary hospital at the moment due to increased demand. There are a range of things that the government is doing to address that demand both at Centenary hospital and at Calvary Public Hospital in Bruce.

It is the case that in addition to that there has been an open letter from the executive director of the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children addressing the issues raised. That is publicly available and has been circulated to the community and to the media in the city.

It is also the case that I note that doctors from Centenary hospital wrote a letter to the Canberra Times which was published just this past weekend about the issues but making it very clear that in their view they were appropriately managing the demand at Centenary hospital. Their clear view is that care is safe and of a high quality and every decision to treat a woman and her baby at Centenary hospital is based on clinically sound decision-making.

MS LAWDER: Minister, who should the people of Canberra believe: you or the staff at the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children?

MS FITZHARRIS: Staff have spoken publicly on a number of occasions about this, as I have just outlined.

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