Page 3257 - Week 11 - Tuesday, 13 November 2007

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There will be bypass in the future. How much I do not know; we will have to see, based on the patient mix that walks into any emergency department on any day of the week.

MR SPEAKER: Is there a supplementary question?

MR SESELJA: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Minister, what is your plan to lessen the occasions of bypass at the Canberra Hospital?

MS GALLAGHER: I think I have answered that. The government’s responsibility in terms of the emergency department is to make sure it is adequately funded to do the job it needs to do, and this government has done that. In the 2006-07 budget, another $1 million went in to the emergency department for more doctors and more nurses. That is the government’s responsibility. What happens in the emergency department is to make sure that all the rosters are filled as best they can be, and that staff are in place to deal with the patient mix. On any day of the week, you cannot predict how many people are going to present to the emergency department. If there are a lot of people presenting to the emergency department and the emergency department is busy, they will go on bypass for the time that it is clinically responsible to do so. Those people who are coming in by ambulance who are less urgent may need to go to Calvary instead of to Canberra—or they may need to go to Canberra instead of to Calvary, depending on who is on bypass at the time.

No-one is refused admission to the emergency department; nobody does not get seen because of load sharing arrangements. It is a clinically responsible way of dealing with times of pressure. It could be for 21 minutes; it could be for 2½ hours. In one case I think it extended to about 12 hours, because of how busy the emergency department was. The government is fulfilling its responsibility around adequate resourcing for the emergency department and making sure that we are doing what we can, if reforms are required, to implement those reforms.

As to whether I, or anyone in the country, can solve bypass issues, anyone who stood up and said, “There will be no bypass at any hospital because I’m the minister in charge and I’ve solved it,” would be a liar. You cannot do it. These are decisions made by doctors in dealing with the patient mix and in dealing with the numbers of patients they are seeing. That is the story about bypass. The answer to your question, Mr Seselja, as to whether I can stop bypass at the hospital, is no.

Housing—interest rates

MR MULCAHY: My question is to the Treasurer. Treasurer, in an article in the Canberra Times of Monday, 12 November, Peter Martin said any mortgagee today will most likely be better off than a person in a similar position would have been under Labor. Treasurer, together with your Labor colleagues, you have been vocalising what is now clearly misplaced criticism of the impact of the Howard government’s policies on working families and households. Treasurer, do you agree with that statement that any mortgagee is likely to be better off under the Howard government than they were under the previous Labor government? If not, what is the basis for your claim?

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