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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 9 Hansard (29 August) . . Page.. 2785 ..

Disability Services - Infection Control Procedures

MS TUCKER: My question is to Mrs Carnell as the Minister for Health and Community Care. Mrs Carnell, on Tuesday in question time, when I asked you why there was no infection control policy in place in Disability Services until August 1996, you said that the policy I was provided with in August was a revised policy, indicating that another policy was in place before August. You also said that ongoing information sessions are run to reinforce policies and that all new staff are provided with policy guidelines. This quite clearly indicated that an existing policy was in place. Yesterday I asked you to table the policy that was in place in Disability Services until August 1996. You said that you would table the current policy because it is the current policy that you are operating on. I am quite confused about what exactly the current policy is and, to my knowledge, you have not yet tabled any policy. In order to clarify this rather confusing situation, I am asking you again to table, firstly, the infection control policy that was in place until August 1996 and to which you referred in Tuesday's question time; secondly, the revision of this policy released in August 1996, entitled "Standard Operating Procedures, Infection Control and Infectious Diseases Exclusion and Inclusion Policy", which I understood had been withdrawn, but which you appear to regard as current; and, thirdly, any further revised infection control draft policy that I understand is currently in circulation for consultation with staff members. Could you, further, inform the Assembly which of these three policies is the current policy?

MRS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, an infection control policy for Intellectual Disability Services was originally developed and applied in the workplace by nursing staff and carers. It was included in the Bruce Hostel policy and procedures manual developed for the then intellectually handicapped section of the ACT Health Authority. That was before self-government, or I assume it was before self-government. This policy was revised during the period 1991 to 1993, obviously under the previous Government, and adapted to the changes in disability support, which was moved away from a clinical and nursing model to a community-based model. This included the ACT Government's OH and S policies for hepatitis B and HIV/AIDS in the workplace. A workplace file for each house was developed as part of the implementation program following the deinstitutionalisation of Bruce Hostel. It included workplace and specific emergency procedures, including precautionary measures. Following this, procedure manuals were developed and the contents revised according to policy revision protocols.

Infection control policy and procedures are currently held in the practice instruction manuals within each house and are readily accessed by staff. These manuals are updated as necessary. When these policies are issued staff are instructed to remove outdated policies. So, what is in the manual is what is current, Ms Tucker. More recently, the infection control policy has been under revision to comply with "Infection Control in the health care setting - Guidelines for the Prevention of Transmission of Infectious Diseases", as I said yesterday, an NHMRC and ANCA publication of April 1996. A draft was issued in August 1996. I understand, Ms Tucker, that a draft was provided to you as well. Through formal and informal training, existing policies are reinforced to keep staff informed and up to date. Over the past five years there has been

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