Page 4824 - Week 13 - Wednesday, 11 November 2009

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between the Chief Health Officer and myself. Unfortunately, I think the ABC dealt with this matter quite unfairly yesterday. Dr Guest was referring to a subsequent complaint that has been received around an individual who is alleging they were not allowed to have an overnight companion with them. That matter is being investigated as an additional complaint. That does not mean the policy is being reviewed or, indeed, that the policy was breached. It might be quite difficult for people who cannot understand complex concepts to understand the issues at the moment, but the policy has not been breached.

Members interjecting—

MS GALLAGHER: Well, here it is: the policy has not been breached. There is no disagreement between the Chief Health Officer and myself on how this has been handled.

Mr Hanson: There was yesterday.

MS GALLAGHER: No, there was not, and there is agreement between the Chief Health Officer and myself that an investigation is underway into a complaint that has been received subsequent to this around an individual alleging that they were not able to have a support person stay with them.

In relation to the broader management issues regarding how this matter has been handled, I think it has been handled very well. That is not to say that people have been unhappy with the fact that exposure has occurred and it does need to be treated, and we deal with those matters from time to time right across the ACT, not just in the hospital.

What would the reaction have been, for example, if—hypothetically speaking—it had been a patient who was in this situation? These are issues that we have to handle from time to time. They are hard, they are complex and they are unfortunate for individuals who get involved in them. We do apologise for that, and I have already said that, as has the Chief Health Officer. But our responsibility is to manage them, to manage them effectively and to manage them sensitively. Some of my concern, in the whole discussion around this, is that very little concern has been expressed for the individuals who are unwell with tuberculosis in this instance.

The other issue is that every time individual health matters like this get raised in the Assembly, they cause a lot of distress to all the parties involved. The opposition might want to play politics with it. I note that Mr Hanson has not made one approach to my office for a confidential briefing on this or for any discussion on this at all. The first point of contact for Mr Hanson, after the Canberra Times alerted him to this, is to come in here with a motion and with allegations in question time. Well, sorry for thinking that you are not that concerned, Mr Hanson. (Time expired.)

MR SPEAKER: Mr Hanson, a supplementary question?

MR HANSON: Minister, do you accept that the contradictory statements made by you and the Chief Health Officer yesterday have created further confusion amongst the community about the issue?

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