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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 10 Hansard (Thursday, 7 October 2021) . . Page.. 2904 ..


There is a range of other infrastructure projects, including an Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders alcohol and drug rehabilitation facility; south-side hydrotherapy pool; the eating disorder residential facility funded by the commonwealth but delivered by the ACT government; and an expansion of walk-in health centres to support our existing walk-in centre network and community health centres to deliver care closer to home for Canberrans.

Mrs Jones’s motion talks specifically about endoscopy, and I am pleased to provide a very quick update in relation to that matter. Currently underway at Canberra Health services is a complete audit of the public endoscopy services waiting list, and I will also be tabling a statement on this tomorrow.

The waiting list audit is expected to be completed in December 2021 and will provide clearer information about the current endoscopy wait situation. Through the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program, around 150 referrals are received each week on top of routine referrals received from primary care. All of those identified as requiring an urgent endoscopy are immediately booked, with a maximum of eight weeks from receipt of referral to procedure. Currently, CHS is meeting the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program key performance indicator of seeing the person in fewer than 100 days.

Through the 2021-22 budget handed down yesterday, more than $1.3 million is being invested by the ACT government to undertake feasibility and design work for updates to the existing public endoscopy suites at both Canberra Hospital and Calvary Public Hospital. The upgrade to Canberra Hospital’s endoscopy suites will allow for an additional 5,000 endoscopy procedures per year.

In the meantime, we are supporting an immediate boost to endoscopy services in 2021-22, building on the work that was done last financial year as part of the recovery from the reduced activity in April and June 2021 through COVID. The one-off provision in the 2021-22 budget for additional endoscopy services will provide more than 900 extra procedures through additional sessions on the weekend and through further recruitment of staff.

I want to go to Mrs Jones’s comments in relation to fit testing. The wellbeing of our staff and their safety is absolutely critical, and it has been of the highest priority for Canberra Health Services, Calvary Public Hospital and for all of us throughout the pandemic. Mrs Jones would have you believe that fit testing is a standard part of normal PPE as BAU; it is actually not. It was something that came up in response to the pandemic.

Fit testing relates only to P2/N95 masks, not surgical masks, and P2/N95 masks are not used across all of the hospital settings. So in the two settings where we have now seen staff potentially having contracted COVID-19 from either a visitor or a patient in the hospital, neither of those are locations where P2/N95 masks are part of the standard PPE. That, of course, is now being reviewed for the entire hospital, given the prevalence of COVID-19 in our community.


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