Page 4346 - Week 13 - Thursday, 17 November 2005

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There are currently approximately 100 of these guidelines used for the assessment of people with mental health concerns, most of which help the nurse to identify any suicidal thoughts on the part of the caller. Where suicidal thoughts are identified, the guidelines lead to a recommendation for emergency treatment.

Health First has in place a "Mental Health Crisis" policy, which states that, where a caller expresses suicidal thoughts, has a suicide plan and a means to carry out that plan, referral to emergency services (Police, Mental Health Services, Ambulance Services) is mandatory. All such calls are transferred to the Mental Health Crisis Line.

Calls to Health First are not specifically recorded as suicidal calls, except in cases where the guideline “Suicidal, Homicidal or Harmful Behaviour” is used. All mental health-related calls, including suicidal calls, make up less than 1% of calls to Health First. The last 12 months of operation have seen the “Suicidal, Homicidal or Harmful Behaviour” guideline used 25 times out of a total of 29,775 assessments performed; this constitutes 0.084% of all assessments.

Health—cancer cases
(Question No 612)

Mr Smyth asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 21 September 2005:

(1) What is the Government doing to address a forecast sharp increase in new cancer cases, given the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare prediction of a 31% increase in cases from 2001 to 2011;

(2) What services are available for older Canberrans to detect new cases of cancer;

(3) Does the ACT have access to a Surgical Gamma Probe that allows doctors to clearly identify a patient’s lymph nodes and glands with cancerous cells; if so, what is the rate of use of this piece of equipment; if not, why not and would the Government consider the purchase of such equipment for cancer detection and treatment in Canberra;

(4) Will the Government recruit additional staff to work in the breast screening area to ensure (a) the participation rate for women aged 50 to 69 increases (b) the number of clients screened meets the budget target and (c) women who require assessment receive an appointment within 14 days; if not, why not; if so, when does the Minister expect to have additional staff recruited.

Mr Corbell: The answer to the member’s question is as follows:

(1) The Capital Region Cancer Service (CRCS), the cancer stream for the ACT and part of the Greater Southern Area Health Service (GSAHS), is currently developing a Cancer Services Plan which will identify service priorities for the stream.

Cancer Services received an additional $ 750,000 recurrent funding in the 2005/06 Territory budget and this has enabled the service to advertise for an additional staff specialist in haematology, an intake officer and four new care co-ordinator positions as well as providing additional funds for chemotherapy. These new positions and the additional funds for chemotherapy will enable more patients to receive chemotherapy than previously.

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