Page 3247 - Week 11 - Tuesday, 13 November 2007

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outcomes and, second, their surgery had been unacceptably delayed. Neither of those two things can I do today. Mrs Burke had an extensive briefing yesterday from a medical professional who is well across this matter. It stretches back to 1996 or before. It is complicated. I had hoped that the briefing that Mrs Burke had yesterday would alert her to all of the issues involved and that they are well in hand in terms of being investigated where there are concerns. I cannot stand here and give any reason to any family for a situation that has not been confirmed. It is just—

Mrs Burke: But they are not lying.

MS GALLAGHER: There is no confirmed case of an adverse outcome for a patient.

Mrs Burke: We are talking about the delays.

MS GALLAGHER: What there have been are allegations raised and concerns raised by a doctor which are going through Health’s approved processes for dealing with these matters. To come in here constantly, question time after question time, and run an interference with those processes is less than helpful in terms of ensuring that we have good, robust processes that doctors are prepared to engage in. This is the issue that we are getting to now. If, every time somebody goes to the opposition spokesperson on health and makes a complaint and that complaint is just accepted as truth and then the spokesperson comes in here and that is spoken to as truth—

Mrs Burke: So they are lying.

MS GALLAGHER: I am not saying that they are lying. I am not saying that anybody is lying. I am trying to explain that this is not the appropriate place to come with unconfirmed cases—

Mrs Burke: No, because you just want to smooth over—

MR SPEAKER: Order, Mrs Burke!

MS GALLAGHER:—and speak about them as if they are confirmed cases. There are approved processes that we have implemented over a number of years at the hospital which are working very well. Mrs Burke’s unhelpful interference in this matter is putting those processes at risk. By putting those processes at risk, the risk of these processes falling over is real.

Mrs Burke: It isn’t.

MS GALLAGHER: She can sit there and shake her head, but I have had a number of doctors come to me and complain that their employment potentially has been politicised by the manner in which the opposition spokesperson is engaging, because of the way these matters have been dealt with. There has been no confirmed case of adverse patient outcomes, yet the reputations of an entire area of Canberra Hospital have been called into question by these repeated allegations being spoken about as confirmed cases of adverse patient outcomes. This way of operating seriously undermines the processes that Health have put in place. I was hoping that the briefing yesterday would have alerted Mrs Burke to that, but obviously it has not.

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