Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 5 Hansard (25 August) . . Page.. 1261 ..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
I have some comments I would like to make in relation to the report, its implementation and the Minister's hopes for it. It is probably regrettable that to an extent the Minister, in his recent announcement in relation to the reallocation of allied health professionals from the Canberra Hospital or the community sector, has pre-empted any possibility of consultation with those groups of people. I believe that his actions in relation to the allied health professionals belie his words at the time that he tabled and introduced his document "Setting the Agenda". Whilst I welcome the fact that the Minister is attempting to be strategic in relation to the ACT's future public health needs, I really hope that his rhetoric is genuinely matched by a determination to carry through with what it is that he sets out to do. In the same context I think it is to be regretted that the flush of pride with which the Minister launched his "Setting the Agenda" document was accompanied by a strike, if one might say so, at Canberra's public hospital, the Canberra Hospital. It seems to me that the Minister really has not quite got in balance the need to address the particular and very pressing needs and pressures which Canberra's public health system is suffering at a time when we are applauding the future and the new agenda.
We have specific and difficult problems to address here and now. The Minister is as aware as I am of the number of people coming to his office and coming to my office with dreadful tales of a lack of care and attention because of a lack of beds at the Canberra Hospital. People in Canberra over the space of this year, and I do not know how far into the past, have been experiencing the most dreadful problems in their interface with the public hospital system. Whilst I welcome the report - in fact, the report to some extent reflects very much of the Labor Party's platform and philosophy on health, so we obviously welcome it - I hope the Minister is genuine about it - - -
Mr Humphries: That is flattery for you.
MR STANHOPE: It is flattering. It is flattering to us that the Government is adopting the policies and the directions that the Labor Party urges and has consistently urged.
Mr Humphries: It is not the policies; it is the practices.
MR STANHOPE: Absolutely, and I do not have any difficulty welcoming and applauding the fact that the Minister appears to be quite genuine in his determination to reform. However, I am concerned that the Minister seems determined to gloss over the fact that our hospital, the Canberra Hospital, is a hospital under the most serious strain. It is bursting; beds are closed; it has been in fairly constant bypass. People are presenting to his office - I know, because they tell me about it - and presenting to my office with the most terrible stories of an inability to have pressing problems addressed because of the lack of beds. I am simply asking the Minister to address those very pressing problems, to deal with the Australian Nursing Federation in a much more sympathetic manner than he has, to be prepared to talk and to negotiate, and to deal with the here-and-now issues.
MR MOORE (Minister for Health and Community Care) (3.46), in reply: Mr Speaker, as nobody else is going to speak, I will just respond to a couple of issues raised by Mr Stanhope. The first issue is the specific one on allied health. Mr Stanhope, you have a clear misunderstanding of what has happened with allied health. There has been a management decision that allied health will answer to Community Care rather than to the hospital. The effect of that at this stage is an impact on a single person,