Page 1431 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 10 April 2013
Debate interrupted in accordance with standing order 74 and the resumption of the debate made an order of the day for a later hour.
Sitting suspended from 12.30 to 2.30 pm.
Questions without notice
MR HANSON: My question is to the Minister for Health and it relates to the Canberra Times story today about the discharge of two babies and their mother from hospital. Minister, it was reported that one baby had lost two kilograms, displayed symptoms of hypothermia and was not feeding. It was promised to the mother that both babies would be transferred to Calvary, but one was actually discharged. Minister, how can it happen that a baby with hypothermia and significant weight loss would be discharged?
MS GALLAGHER: I thank the Leader of the Opposition for the question. The Health Directorate has received a complaint along the lines that Mr Hanson has just spoken of in the chamber. That complaint is being investigated. It is difficult for me; I am not a doctor but it does appear that there is a difference of clinical opinion in relation to the decisions that were taken about individual patients at the hospital. I think we have to work through those, and the Health Directorate will be working with the family.
MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Hanson.
MR HANSON: Minister, why did medical staff provide a full examination of one baby but not another, resulting in one being transferred to Calvary via ambulance and the other being discharged?
MS GALLAGHER: I do not think you can presume that a medical assessment was only undertaken on one of the babies, but it is currently under investigation by the Health Directorate, as is appropriate when these matters are brought to the attention of the Health Directorate. I will be advised on the outcome of that investigation.
MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mrs Jones.
MRS JONES: Minister, what procedures are in place for discharging newborns, particularly those with medical conditions? What are the procedures for discharge and transfer of multiple-birth children and is the discharge of babies the responsibility of doctors or other staff on the unit?
MS GALLAGHER: The decisions around discharge are made by the clinical team, led by the doctor. In relation to discharge practices, each patient who comes to the hospital should have a discharge plan that is put in place. One aspect of the complaint that is being investigated is that the discharge planning clearly was not what the mother in this instance should have expected. If there are issues that come out of the investigation that need to inform changes to policies and practice at the hospital then