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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 11 Hansard (Tuesday, 13 November 2007) . . Page.. 3271 ..

As the Australian Medical Association have stated, state and territory hospitals are run by their ministers and their health departments. They are uncomfortably disconnected. If you take a decision to put in place a local board, in between them, it will reinstate the connection and accountability, and may even reduce the number of bureaucrats and administrators required, rather than add to it, as claimed by the Stanhope government. Far from adding additional layers of bureaucracy, it will ensure a more open and accountable process.

The AMA public hospital report card 2007 provides independent analysis of relevant hospital issues, including capacity, performance, access and equity, productivity and funding. It was prepared mostly using publicly available information which assesses public hospital performance against government-determined performance standards and criteria. Unfortunately, in many major areas the ACT government has failed because it has not demonstrated the leadership required to manage the public hospital system.

With respect to the response from the Auditor-General, which we heard about today from the health minister, regarding a performance audit into the availability and adequacy of medical equipment and supplies in the ACT’s public hospitals, I welcome the findings, but I do not doubt the many claims made to me about the lack of available equipment and supplies at the time. I do not believe those people would ring me up and lie. Also, I would like to add to what the minister said. In the Auditor-General’s response to me, while she said all the things that the health minister mentioned, she said: “Your letter raises key issues relating to the operation of ACT Health which are of great importance to the ACT community and the ACT Legislative Assembly.” I will certainly be moving forward with that and talking to the Auditor-General about those matters of concern at a later date.

The government has overlaid the public system with unnecessary bureaucracy, to such an extent that around 30 rooms, recently identified, have been given over to administrators, while patients with infectious diseases have been placed in corners of public wards. Closer scrutiny of the way in which our public hospitals are administered can only assist a thorough evaluation of internal governance and management practices, when we have heard of things like that going on in our public hospitals. I also acknowledge and note that there has been a change to try and reverse that unfortunate situation.

There has been a succession of management failure; there is no doubt about it. There was the case of the young man left unattended after being brought to the Canberra Hospital by ambulance, and who died of a heart attack. There were troubles in the neurosurgery unit. I have even heard one story of an elderly woman who was put to bed in a storeroom. A recent FOI request from my office stated that whilst the target percentage for emergency department access block for the year to July 2007 was 25 per cent, it is actually 30.6 per cent—an increase of 5.6 per cent. Of course, more latterly, we have heard about the very serious issues surrounding oral and maxillofacial surgery within the Canberra Hospital—an issue that has been going on for six years. It is absolutely appalling for this government to say they are blaming the former Liberal administration from over six, seven, eight, nine or even 10 years ago.

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