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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 1 Hansard (18 February) . . Page.. 321 ..

MR MOORE (continuing):

There are reports that we do for specific reasons, often about improving health but also about making sure we have efficiency. It is a very sensible thing to do. I think Booz Allen illustrates that very clearly. I do not remember the cost of Booz Allen.

Ms Carnell: It was about $1m.

MR MOORE: The Chief Minister indicates that it was about $1m. If you can turn that around to save $18m, then I think most of us would say that that was a pretty good investment.

Calvary Hospital - Accident and Emergency Department

MR RUGENDYKE: My question is to the Health Minister, Mr Moore. I advise members that I forewarned Mr Moore about this question, but I must say that I am surprised that he was unaware of the situation. I have received a report from a constituent about an alleged closure of the emergency department at Calvary Hospital. Last Friday an elderly lady was seeking treatment for a broken arm. When her daughter went to Calvary to acquire assistance, she was informed that the emergency department was closed and would be closed for five days. Mr Speaker, in light of yesterday's debate about the management of the health system, this information, which came to me only this morning, concerns me. Can the Minister please inform the Assembly for exactly what periods Calvary emergency department has been closed this year, and can he please explain why?

MR MOORE: Thank you very much, Mr Rugendyke. Because you gave us a little bit of warning of that question I am able to give you a sensible answer to it. The myth that Calvary accident and emergency department was somehow closed for five days can be immediately put to rest. That was not the case. In fact, last Friday, 12 February, the accident and emergency department at Calvary Hospital went on bypass for a couple of hours until 10.30. During that time this particular woman you speak about - I gather that she had been down by the lake - came to Calvary to ask for assistance because her mother, still at the lake, had broken her arm. That is my understanding of what happened. The ambulance was called. In the normal situation, an ambulance called under those circumstances would go immediately to the Canberra Hospital, bypassing Calvary. If it is obvious to an ambulance officer that it is a very simple break, it might be dealt with at Calvary. Most times the ambulance officer will judge that it is better to take an orthopaedic accident and emergency case to the Canberra Hospital. That is exactly what happened.

I presume that it was indicated to the woman, who no doubt was under quite a bit of stress, or that she received a message that this was a five-day thing. It was not a five-day thing. It was for a couple of hours while Calvary was on bypass. It is standard practice that when all beds in the accident and emergency department are full for all ambulances to be redirected to the Canberra Hospital when they may need a bed. It is their normal practice. It occurred for a couple of hours. This particular person probably would not have been taken to Calvary anyway.

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