Page 3349 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 14 November 2007

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review of the Assembly’s library is not pre-empted by decisions that may be made by the government?

MR SPEAKER: No, I was not consulted on the loss of that position.

Opposition members: Shame!

MR SPEAKER: Please do not interject. I have written to the minister concerned to get to the bottom of the issue. I will be keeping members of the administration and procedure committee informed about developments. I am due to meet with the reviewers of the library soon. I do not recall the exact date, but soon—it is on Friday. That is about it.

Health—oral and maxillofacial surgery

MRS BURKE: My question is to the Minister for Health and I have already given the minister advanced warning of this question today. Minister, I have been advised by officials from your department, via a briefing this week, that the plastic and reconstructive surgeons based at the Canberra Hospital are qualified to conduct oral maxillofacial surgery. Minister, if this is so, why are patients being referred by a senior plastic surgeon from the Canberra Hospital to oral maxillofacial qualified surgeons to conduct trauma work outside of Canberra?

MS GALLAGHER: I thank Mrs Burke for the question. I understand that during the briefing on Monday Mrs Burke was taken through a number of matters in relation to this and it was confirmed that our plastic surgeons are qualified to conduct the surgery that they have been performing at the Canberra Hospital. As to why a particular doctor might make a referral to another doctor—I cannot answer that question. Those matters are made on clinical decisions based on the patient. They happen across a variety of areas—in fact, across the whole of the ACT health system. I do not think it is unusual for these matters to be referred to other specialists if they need to be.

MR SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Mrs Burke?

MRS BURKE: Yes, thank you, Mr Speaker. Minister, are you aware that Dr Aquilina, a surgeon from the Westmead children’s hospital in Sydney, told Channel 9 on 26 October 2007 that he cannot understand why children with trauma from maxillofacial injuries need to be ambulanced to Sydney when the work can be done by OMFS specialists in Canberra?

MS GALLAGHER: I note this in the email that Mrs Burke sent me at 1.42 pm. I do not know that he said it, other than what is in the email; it says that he did say it. I did not see it. I think this is all no secret to anyone that we are trying to reintegrate a full service at Canberra Hospital. It has not been in operation since, I think, 1997. There has been an enormous amount of work spent on trying to get this service reintegrated. We were at a point where that was to happen. I understand now that it is a little less clear about the way forward because of the way that this matter has been dealt with. That is extremely unfortunate.

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