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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 4 Hansard (25 June) . . Page.. 1104 ..

MR MOORE (continuing):

Mr Speaker, this was indeed an unfortunate incident at the Canberra Hospital. The report that I have tabled does not include the detail of the work of Dr Doherty as he followed through, but it does include the preliminary comments, the introduction and, most importantly, the outcomes. The outcomes are an embarrassment to me, I have to say, in that an accident like this occurred. What is not an embarrassment to me is that the hospital responded so rapidly to employ Dr Peter Doherty to examine this matter and to ensure the appropriate outcome. Dr Doherty is director of psychiatry at the Northern Hospital and director of clinical services of the Northern and Central East Area Mental Health Services of Melbourne. He has significant qualifications in the relevant areas and is recognised as a prominent psychiatrist.

Mr Speaker, he made a series of recommendations, all of which have now been taken up by Mental Health Services. I have included the full set of recommendations that Dr Doherty made. It is quite clear from what Dr Doherty has said that there was a major problem in the hospital. He says:

The most significant finding of this inquiry is the failure of the hospital to impose a due standard of care regarding the introduction of the Thymatron DX E.C.T. machine.

ECT is electroconvulsive therapy. He continues:

While it is obviously commendable that improvements in technology are being introduced with the potential to improve patient outcomes, the introduction of such, as was experienced with the new E.C.T. machine, without due consideration for the training, education and supervision of staff is a failure on the hospital's part.

It is an embarrassment for any Minister to have to stand in this Assembly and say that this has happened, as indeed it is an embarrassment for everybody involved with this incident. I have spoken to the man involved in the incident. The good news for members of the Assembly is that he has recovered very well from his mental illness. The treatment that he received has been very good. He is recovering very well from the fracture to his back as well. The response of the department to the recommendations has been swift and action has been taking place. That response is included here. I hope that members will see that the hospital has taken an appropriate approach from the time that the accident occurred.

As members may be aware, we have appointed Ms Fiona Tito to look at adverse incidents in the hospital. In fact, discussions were in train before this incident occurred. I hope that we will minimise such adverse incidents in the hospital. I think the fact that the matter became public will help put some people right across the hospital on their toes, so that instead of having a good reaction afterwards all action will be taken to avoid these sorts of situations occurring in the future.

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