Page 2654 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 28 June 2011

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But the short answer is that both emergency departments—Calvary and Canberra—have seen deterioration in their categories 3 and 4. It is something that we are very focused on but it is very difficult when, for example, last Monday, 211 people came to the emergency department at Canberra Hospital and went through the emergency department, which is essentially established for about 30 patients at any one time. So you can imagine the turnover that has to go just to meet those 211 presentations. In addition, the walk-in centre I think has almost exceeded 16,000 presentations in a year. That is the workload we are dealing with.

MR COE: A supplementary, Mr Speaker.

MR SPEAKER: Yes, Mr Coe.

MR COE: Minister, in your ministerial statement on government priorities you stated that you would undertake a process redesign to improve flow through emergency departments. Did your initiative in April 2009 fail?

MS GALLAGHER: No, but it is one of continuous improvement, and I think we have set ourselves the target of achieving 70 per cent of all emergency department presentations seen within standard waiting times. We meet the standard waiting times for categories 1 and 2 and category 5. It is categories 3 and 4 that we need to ensure that we are improving against. The work of the hospital and the health system in general is one of continuous improvement. The work to improve will never be finished; whether it is around timeliness, whether it is around quality, whether it is around patient safety, the work is ongoing. But I think we have set ourselves a challenging and ambitious target, and I am very focused on meeting it.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Hanson, a supplementary?

MR HANSON: Minister, how can you describe your efforts as continuous improvement when waiting times are actually worsening?

MS GALLAGHER: Again, I think when you put it into the context of the number of people who are coming through the emergency department, you will see the excellent work that is being done by the hospital. But I have to say it is one of the most difficult areas to predict in terms of the workload and meeting your timeliness targets, because you never know what is going to walk through the door.

About three years ago, I would say the average number of people coming to the emergency department would have sat at about 150 presentations a day at Canberra Hospital and probably around 110 or 120 at Calvary. The workload now on any day in any category is closer to 200 at Canberra Hospital and is sitting at about 170 or 180 a day at Calvary. When you add those together, sometimes 400 people are coming through the emergency departments in Canberra in any 24-hour period.

It is a massive workload for the staff in our emergency departments. They do an incredible job. I have discussed this target with them and we believe that we will be able to meet it.

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