Page 4840 - Week 13 - Wednesday, 11 November 2009

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moving to this motion; I appear to have left it upstairs. I will circulate the amendment at the end of my speech.

The government will not be supporting the motion as it reads today. I think it is unfortunate that the opposition have felt the need to move a motion here in the chamber that really goes to individuals when there are other ways that I could have certainly provided information to the opposition if they had requested it and done so in a way that protected the privacy of a number of individuals involved in this matter.

The motion goes to questions around overnight stays for people in hospital, particularly in the postnatal ward. The policy which is in place at the hospital sets out the framework: ideally, if someone is having an overnight support person, they should be able to be in a single room. But the policy also allows for flexibility in those arrangements to cater for the needs of the patients who, of course, have very different experiences post-delivery and very different needs. The Canberra Hospital is a family-oriented hospital where, particularly in the maternity area, there is encouragement around providing a very caring and nurturing environment for mothers and their families and partners, of course. I do not think anyone in this place would object, as they are a very important part of the whole birthing process and integral to the ongoing care and support for the mums and babies.

There are many reasons why a support person would be allowed to stay overnight with a woman in the postnatal ward. It may be that they require support after a stillbirth or a neonatal death. They may have a very sick infant or may have had a very sick infant that has spent time in other parts of the hospital. It may be that the woman is unwell and exhausted and will benefit from the close support of her family. Other women have needs relating to culture, language and disability. So flexibility is required in these circumstances, and that is reflected in the wording of the policy. An individual assessment is made at the time as to whether a support person can stay overnight, depending on the circumstances and the needs of the family, and the policy is flexible enough to allow for that.

I will just circulate that amendment I spoke about.

On ABC radio on Saturday afternoon, there was a claim that it was a breach of policy to allow another person to stay overnight in a shared room. We clarified that the policy had not been breached and confirmed that there was capacity for a partner to stay overnight in a shared room and that a single room would be allocated if available. In the Sunday media, a patient claimed that her partner was not allowed to stay overnight in a shared room. This is the matter I referred to in question time in relation to the second allegation on the administration of the policy, and that is what is currently being reviewed. We will certainly have further discussions with the individual who made that complaint.

I have looked at the policy. Having been a mother in the antenatal and postnatal part of the hospital myself, I am coming from this from a number of ways—that is, from looking at it as someone who has been through the system but also as the Minister for Health. I strongly believe there is no need to review the visiting hours policy. It was put together based on experience and best practice guidelines that exist for public

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