Page 4446 - Week 12 - Wednesday, 14 October 2009

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The cameras are very high definition, and the ability to locate individuals even in a large arena such as Canberra Stadium is extremely advanced, and that is all about providing a safer Canberra for all Canberrans, an opportunity for all Canberrans to feel safer at major events or when moving around the city centre. Monitoring in real time is the key to doing that. Cameras on their own can assist but the real difference comes from monitoring in real time and police working with the people monitoring the cameras to achieve the best results in terms of community safety.

Canberra Hospital—waiting times

MR HANSON: My question is to the Minister for Health. Minister, the Sunday Canberra Times of 11 October revealed the story of a 19-month-old girl who was taken to the Canberra Hospital emergency department after suffering a febrile convulsion. The girl and her family were forced to wait 7½ hours before leaving the hospital without seeing a doctor. The girl’s mother expressed frustration at the unacceptably long delay and lack of communication with the family. Minister, can you advise the Assembly if you have addressed the family’s concerns and have you assured them that such an event will not occur again?

MS GALLAGHER: I have corresponded with the family. Of course, I am not in a position to go into the details of that correspondence because it related to an individual’s health record. I did not promise the family that it would never happen again. If I could speak hypothetically here—160 people were seen at the emergency department, many of those across a whole range of categories. I am speaking hypothetically here, but on an average day in June, August and September, the emergency department at Canberra Hospital sees in the order of 160 people, 60 of whom are admitted to the hospital.

Category 1 patients, category 2 patients and category 3 patients are seen before category 4 patients. If there are a lot of category 1, 2 or 3, that means category 4 will wait. And sometimes they will wait a long time. But those are not decisions that politicians can make. Clinicians are the ones that need to make the decisions about who in the emergency department is seen, who is seen first and the order that is created. That is the nature of the triage system. This government has done more than any other government since self-government in terms of resourcing adequately our health system, whether that is in the emergency department or right across the hospital. In fact, the emergency department performance is improving—

Mr Hanson: Not since you’ve been in government.

MR SPEAKER: Order, Mr Hanson!

MS GALLAGHER: and I think the opposition need to acknowledge that. But I cannot promise anyone when they will be seen at the emergency department, and neither can the opposition. What I can say is that the quality of care provided at the Canberra Hospital is first rate, but that decisions about who is seen, when they are seen and, indeed, their movement through the list, if presentations of more serious patients come in the interim, will change. While it is unfortunate that there are waits in the emergency department, the community works with us on this. From time to time—

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