Page 455 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 13 February 2013

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The second part of the amendment is to detail the government’s plan to improve the ED by the last sitting day in March 2013. The point I have made, and I made it in my speech, is that we have been hearing it for 11 years. We have seen the performance deteriorate and we have heard the government saying, “Don’t worry. We’ve got the plans to fix it.” So we are no further along. We are just hearing the same thing and we are just going to get more plans: “Don’t worry. We have got the plans; we have got the programs. This is what we are doing.” That is no change at all from what we have heard from this government with successive ministers for 11 years.

I reiterate that we will not be supporting the amendment because it does not achieve the effect that we need, which is an external look at our EDs. Based on the evidence, for 11 years—despite the government and this minister saying that they have got the plan to fix it—the results have proved that that is not the case.

MR DOSZPOT (Molonglo) (11.32): I welcome the opportunity to speak to the Leader of the Opposition’s motion today. The motion calls on the Assembly to recognise the outstanding work of the staff in the emergency departments at Canberra and Calvary hospitals, and I have no hesitation in recognising the valuable work they do.

Good health is the most valuable asset anyone can have and it is not something that ought to be taken lightly. Just as important to good health, good health services are a most valuable contribution that a government needs to provide to the community. More importantly, it is a responsibility that the government has to provide to the community.

No-one knows when one is likely to need the services of any hospital section, much less the emergency department. And it is not unreasonable to expect that here in the ACT, where we are constantly reminded of our higher socioeconomic status, we should enjoy a first-class health system. We have the framework, we have the staff, but, sadly for our community, we simply do not have the quality government service support or commitment that a good health service needs.

Any scanning of Hansard over the last six years and any cursory trail through media clippings provides the reader with a grim picture. It is a grim picture of government failure, of lack of care, of overworked and under-appreciated staff. Only last October, the Canberra Times commented:

The complexity of administering large hospitals is such that even the best-run facilities experience mishaps from time to time. In this, the ACT’s two public hospitals are not immune. In the past month in Canberra, there have been at least two publicised instances of “access block” at Canberra Hospital’s emergency department and the acute mental health unit, one involving an elderly cancer patient suffering severe breathing difficulties forced to wait 33 hours before being admitted to a ward. A baby narrowly escaped injury after a wooden panel dropped from a wall on to a cot in the new Centenary Hospital for Women and Children, and at the same facility staff missed a call for help to resuscitate a baby in a neonatal intensive care unit. Later, the mother of the child concerned (one of

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