Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 13 Hansard (Wednesday, 28 November 2018) . . Page.. 4922 ..
19 November the impact of serious maintenance issues on the hospital campus. We discussed yesterday the closure of theatre 14 for up to 12 weeks because of mould found in the HEPA filter in that theatre, and the impact that had, with the operating theatres not being fully operational.
We have also heard that the whole slew of operating theatres were systematically shut down, one after another, between March and June this year, due to plumbing issues that had to be addressed. None of these things were brought to the attention of the people of the ACT. They had to be winkled out by someone giving me a hint about what sorts of questions to ask, then opening it out more in annual reports, rather than by the minister coming clean with the community and telling the community what they are doing in the hospital.
My colleague Mrs Jones will refer later in the debate on this motion to problems with the maintenance of the Centenary hospital birthing suites. We also need to draw attention to the fact that the paediatric medical unit has been closed, to my knowledge, from 26 August this year, and remains unopen, due to plumbing issues. They could have closed it, stripped the place out, re-plumbed it and put it all back together in that time, but we have not been able to do it. The impact that that has potentially had on infection control in the paediatric ward is serious, because we have had medical patients, who sometimes carry a high burden of infection, being housed in the same ward as surgical patients, which is just bad practice.
In answer to a question on notice, it was revealed that the number of code yellows caused by maintenance issues within the Canberra Hospital is on track to double this year. That is because this minister does not have control over what is going on in the hospital and she is not in control in ensuring that the infrastructure is properly maintained in order to run a 21st century hospital.
In April 2017 the government was advised of the presence of deadly ligature points in the mental health unit. The draft accreditation report identified these ligature points as an extreme risk. The ligature points will not be finally removed until June 2019, more than two years after the risks were identified. Plans to remove the ligature points reduced the availability of beds in the mental health unit, which we already know is running generally at 105 per cent, because not all of the beds were opened when the building was originally opened.
Clearly, the wheels are falling off the cart, and it has become obvious to everyone that our health services infrastructure is unable to cope. On 23 November the Canberra Times reported that our population is forecast to grow to half a million over the next decade. Our health system is having trouble coping with the current population, so we desperately need new hospital infrastructure.
The government’s policy at the 2016 election was to build a surgical procedures intervention, radiology and emergency, or SPIRE, building. However, this plan was drawn up, as we have come to learn, on the back of a drinks coaster, in response to the Canberra Liberals’ election promise, which the government initially pooh-poohed. SPIRE has hardly been an inspiring project.