Page 2182 - Week 06 - Thursday, 26 June 2008

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is that patients still end up on hospital gurneys in corridors outside the emergency departments because you have mismanaged the system. No amount of money, no amount of glossy plans, no amount of statistics and no amount of spin will change the views on that of the nurses in the emergency departments, the doctors and the ambulance drivers who sit there with patients until they have to go on another callout.

I was speaking to an ambulance driver the other night who said that last weekend there were three ambulances sitting on the apron at the hospital with patients on gurneys in corridors because they could not get beds. The majority of the fleet at that time was off the road. That is the hospital system you preside over. You can stand here and you can say, “Mr Smyth wasn’t interested because he didn’t speak for a long time.” I can speak on this for as long as you like; I can go on all night if you want me to. But you need to go out and talk to the people in the shopping centres. You need to go out and listen to those people. You need to go out and find out what the people of Canberra really want instead of coming in here with your glossy brochures and saying, “This is what they want, because they told us so.” Well, that is not what they are telling us at the shopping centre stalls on the weekends.

MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Minister for Health) (11:25): I need to respond to that, because Mr Smyth made some quite serious allegations that I am mismanaging the health system, that the morale of staff at the hospital is very low, that doctors and nurses in the emergency departments believe that I am unable to manage the health system, that nurses are tripping over electrical cords and that I said that that was not a big problem. That is not correct.

Mr Smyth: I didn’t say “tripping;” I said “stepping.”

MS GALLAGHER: Okay, but you said that I said that that was not a problem, and I did not say that. I need to put on the record that that is not the case. I am at the hospital on a weekly basis walking around the hospital in the emergency department, in the intensive care unit, in MAPU and in many of the other wards, meeting with staff and meeting with nurses all the time. It is simply not true for you to stand here and say that morale is at the point you are alleging. It is not the case. I am not only saying that from witnessing what I do when I go on my visits to the hospital, but it is actually not even supported by the statistics, which Mr Smyth said not to worry about. Separation rates for nursing staff are low; they are as low as they have been for some time. We are attracting doctors to work in the ACT, and that flies in the face of the allegations that Mr Smyth has just raised. I am sorry that my initial speech to Mr Smyth knocked him around so much that he felt compelled to stand up and make a vitriolic attack like that. We can see the glass jaw; it has been smashed today. Mr Smyth has had to stand up and launch an attack that he cannot substantiate.

If you can, move a substantive motion to support the points that you raised tonight, Mr Smyth. Move a substantive motion that I am mismanaging the health system, and let all of us in this place have the debate. Mr Smyth should try to provide evidence to support those claims, because they are simply not correct.

Proposed expenditure agreed to.

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