Page 217 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 28 November 2012

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on. The Greens were pleased when the minister announced that she would be commissioning a review into maternity services and the birthing model of care at the new Centenary Hospital for Women and Children earlier this month. Mr Hanson’s calls for this review to be a thorough and transparent process are extremely valid.

The ACT, as we all know, is a growing territory with an increasing population and a recent spike in new births. We must always remember that any new facilities will be utilised not just by those living within our borders but also from the broader capital region. It is therefore vital that we as a city and a community have the full range of services needed to provide the best quality health care and not a one-size-fits-all approach.

We also need Canberra’s services to be built with an eye on the future as we inevitably expand and to base this planning on constructive feedback with relevant stakeholders and experts. As a result of these considerations, in this context I have considered the options around this review and I discussed these with the minister’s office.

The Greens agree that it is very important that the review includes independent advice from relevant experts but I do not accept that the review should be established as a completely independent entity, given the additional costs and time that this would entail. I agree with the review as put forward by the Minister for Health as it will be undertaken by people who fully understand the current systems which are in place and will include independent input and advice.

We need to give real respect to the ability of the Health Directorate to deal with problems relating to resourcing and care and we need to appreciate that we have overwhelmingly good outcomes in our health system including in the area of maternity services here in the ACT. I think that we are lucky in Australia that we have an independent public service. I think that in a circumstance like this having the capability of the directorate to actually sit and review these things, to use their expertise and knowledge to work through these situations, has merit and is something I think that we can have confidence in, particularly in light of some comments I will make later.

The other thing I would say is that while we need to recognise the problems we also need to acknowledge the positives. The contribution of a nurse’s care and attention, a ward officer’s help and banter, and a midwife’s understanding and commitment are all recognised by patients and their families but too often go unrecognised in this place. I certainly agree with Mr Hanson that this review should be publicly transparent. Consequently, discussions with the minister’s office have ensured that, as well as outlining the areas that the review will cover, Ms Gallagher’s amendment now includes ensuring that the terms of reference and the final report will be publicly released.

As well as addressing issues around the birthing model of care review, Ms Gallagher’s amendment also notes that there will be a feasibility study by June 2014 which will assess demand for public birthing services on the north side and into whether the ACT also needs a stand-alone publicly funded birth centre which is not located on an acute hospital site.

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