Page 4075 - Week 13 - Wednesday, 24 November 1993

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Mrs Carnell: And there are people waiting 12 months or longer.

MR BERRY: No, you are wrong. The percentage of people who are waiting 12 months or more is declining. Madam Speaker, whilst waiting lists are not a full measure, they do reflect an element of performance within the health system; but it is not altogether the performance of the hospital system, it is also the performance of the medical professionals who refer people to those lists. The hospital performance can be measured by the length of time they stay on the lists. You can see that the percentage of people who wait three months or less is increasing. Overall I think the community out there can be satisfied that the hospital system has performed well up until the point of the strike by the visiting medical officers. They will have to wear the blame for any effect on the hospital system from that point on.

Emergency Hospital Services

MS ELLIS: Madam Speaker, my question is directed to the Deputy Chief Minister in his capacity as Minister for Health. I refer to an interview I heard on ABC radio this morning. Can the Minister inform the Assembly about claims that staff at Woden Valley Hospital are being forced more or less to beg with the doctors on the AMA telephone line in order to obtain treatment for patients in need?

MR BERRY: This is a very serious matter, Madam Speaker. Staff at the hospital are being placed under a great deal of pressure because a militant group within the AMA are controlling access by patients to their visiting medical officers. I will give you some examples of some of the cases. This will horrify you. The holder of the telephone through which access to VMOs is available requested that an eight-year-old - listen to this one - be transferred from Woden Valley Hospital to Calvary for orthopaedic care despite being aware that Calvary Public Hospital has no paediatric nursing facilities. That is unbelievable. They are asking that they be transferred from the paediatric ward to Calvary Hospital knowing full well that they do not have appropriate services there. This is all part of this industrial dispute.

The holder of the telephone through which access to VMOs is available held the view that a patient reassessed at Woden Valley Hospital after transfer from Calvary and being found to have appendicitis with perforation and peritonitis was not an emergency - what a disgrace! - and should be sent to Sydney. Another example is obstetricians altering usual clinical management and refusing to agree to patients requesting epidural analgesia in labour. What a disgrace! How do these people hold up their heads? How do they sleep? It is no wonder that Grahame Bates said that he could not sleep.

Mrs Carnell: He did not say that he could not sleep. He said that he was up all night trying to organise this roster.

Mr Connolly: Trying to organise this was what he was doing.

MR BERRY: Yes, to organise this chaos.

Mr Humphries: That is not fair. You should withdraw that.

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