Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (26 November) . . Page.. 3077 ..
MR MOORE: I would certainly be delighted to answer that question. I knew the question was going to be for me, because Mr Berry said, "Age before beauty". As the oldest member of Cabinet, I knew it just had to be for me. It is interesting that I am both the oldest and the best looking in Cabinet, although we have the advantage that Mr Humphries at least hides his face behind hair.
I will need to check the nurse staffing levels in Canberra that Mr Berry identifies. My recollection is that the same sort of thing has been happening right across Australia. I would like to check those figures, so I will take that part of the question on notice. There certainly have been a number of studies of nursing at the Canberra Hospital. Those studies have indicated that, if anything, we are about 50 nurses overstaffed on a national benchmark. I think it is fair to say that in our community nursing area we could always do with more nurses. The amount of work available, if we could afford it, is really quite extraordinary. Indeed, if we had an open purse, who would hesitate to purchase more nursing staff for the hospital?
Mr Speaker, 17 new skilled nurses commenced employment with the Canberra Hospital in November, but the hospital is supporting a number of training programs both within the hospital and outside, particularly within the speciality areas where we know we have a long-term shortage of nurses. They include the intensive care unit, which I referred to earlier in answer to a question from Mr Stanhope. The Canberra Hospital and the Australian Nursing Federation are currently involved in a joint review of nursing management information systems. In addition, the Canberra Hospital will continue to consult with the federation over ongoing changes within the nursing service. Let us hope that the ongoing dialogue and consultation will see an amicable resolution to the difference of opinion on nursing services that has erupted into industrial action over the last few months over the notion of nursing services.
Mr Speaker, it seems to me that we must continue to work as best we can to try to get the best possible outcomes for our patients. That is the challenge for us.
MR BERRY: I direct a supplementary question to the Minister. Minister, why are you so blinkered to the disincentives created by the mismanagement of our health system by consecutive Liberal Ministers?
MR SPEAKER: Is this a supplementary question, Mr Berry?
MR BERRY: Yes, it is. I am starting with a question. Why are you so blinkered to the disincentives created by the mismanagement of the hospital by successive Liberal governments and the effect that has on enrolments? Why are you so blinkered to the disincentives created by poor working conditions endured by nurses and the effect that has on enrolments? Why are you so blinkered to the pressure on nurses created by long waiting lists and the effect that has on enrolments? Why are you so blinkered as to the lost job opportunities created by bed closures and the effect that has on enrolments? When are you going to acknowledge these things?