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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 9 Hansard (27 August) . . Page.. 3266 ..

Canberra hospitals-bed blockage

MR CORNWELL: This proud grandfather's question, through you, Mr Speaker, is to the Minister for Health. At last week's health summit, the premier of New South Wales, Mr Carr, said that we need to get better value out of the health dollars spent. Mr Carr then cited the example of the John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle, where 30 nursing home-type patients were preventing some 2,200 other people from accessing elective surgery through what is known as "nursing home-type patient bed blockage".

I think we gave you notice of this earlier, Minister, but how many nursing home-type patients are blocking beds in the ACT in both the Canberra Hospital and the Calvary Public Hospital, please?

MR CORBELL: Mr Cornwell is right to identify bed block as a significant issue in the efficiency of all public hospitals, including Canberra's public hospitals. I thank Mr Cornwell for some notice on this particular question. Before I give him the details, I will just make the point that the trial and operation of John Hunter Hospital is a very good initiative, one that the ACT government would wish to follow.

Indeed, my discussions with Senator Patterson recently have very much focused on trying to get Commonwealth support to achieve that, because that is exactly what happened, Mr Cornwell, with John Hunter. It is funded by-if I am correct and I am pretty sure I am-a Commonwealth initiative. It is not an initiative of the state government. Nevertheless, it is a very good program.

The answer to Mr Cornwell's specific question is that, at the Canberra Hospital, there are currently 23 nursing home-type patients and, at Calvary Hospital, nine.

MR CORNWELL: Minister, what are you doing about the bed block that you have just quoted, of 23 and nine patients respectively, which must be denying some elective surgery to Canberrans, when there are currently 200 aged-care beds that have not been commissioned and are available in this territory?

MR CORBELL: Mr Speaker, I will be making an announcement on this issue shortly.

Mental health care

MR SMYTH: My question is also to the Minister for Health. Mr Corbell, last week there was a conference on health outcomes at Rydges Lakeside. At the conference there was a discussion of the fact that, in most areas of health, incidence of death is used as a performance indicator. For example, in obstetrics and anaesthesia, watch carefully and learn from their relatively tiny number of deaths. Even a small increase is taken very seriously.

The exception to this is the area of mental health, which tends not to collect this information. Minister, in the past 18 months, how many clients of Mental Health ACT have been involved in homicides? How many have been involved in attempted homicides? How many have attempted suicide, and how many have been successful in committing suicide?

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