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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 04 Hansard (Tuesday, 20 April 2021) . . Page.. 830 ..

death emergencies, as they should be, are dealt with immediately. However, as soon as we look at category 2 and, in particular, category 3, things get hairy. I am really hoping that we will soon be informed by the minister how her statements about improving these wait times in ED will be enacted. For the sake of the staff in our hospital, for the sake of those waiting for urgent care, I hope there will be an improvement.

Canberrans also wait far too long for specialist appointments. After they finally get their initial appointments with specialists, it takes many more months or years of waiting to actually get their procedures. The areas of particular concern to me include ENT. This is something we need children, especially, to receive almost immediately upon diagnosis. Kids who, for example, need grommets need to get them within months because these children experience infections which can cause speech and other developmental delays that can affect their outcomes for a lifetime, not just in health but in education and access to opportunities.

Last week we discovered that a wait for an endoscopy is now blowing out to be over 500 days. This is hard on those with a family history of stomach or bowel cancer, and repeat customers, and it is a disgrace that, given that these waits are so long, some Canberrans are potentially having cancers appear whilst on the waiting list. I see nothing in this budget that will turn around some of the longest wait times in the country.

The ongoing issue of culture is not just a word. We use the word “culture” a great deal, but what does it refer to? In our health system it refers to two things—things do not get fixed, even when they are raised by staff, and if you are the brave enough staff member who is vocal about a problem you are likely to be at least ignored or bullied and at worst sidelined and ultimately terminated or not have your contract renewed. This is not a one-off event; it happens time and again. As a result, the most vocal disappear and the problems in the system go on, and on, and on.

I accept that no employment system is perfect, but more respect for employees and the concerns they raise would be a very good start. There is an insidious side to the culture in the hospital and it makes employees scared and stressed. It says to those who want to stand up for themselves, “You don’t matter as much as our reputation, or your concerns aren’t not important enough for us to fix.” That is the reason we have a culture problem at TCH. The antiquated buildings do not help and the tower block does not help, but if the culture was better all those things could be managed if necessary.

To the nurses who have had to stand up for themselves and for patients on a daily basis, I say thank you. To all those who have tried to improve the system, I say thank you. To all those who have thought about giving up, I hear you and I see you. I would like you to be able to come to work in a much more respectful place. I could comment on this place too, but anyway. I honour you for the amazing care you give to those in need in the hospitals and in the system despite the fact that, for over a decade, the insulting culture has prevailed. I hear you, I see you and I am fighting for you.

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