Page 2024 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 15 May 2013
Of considerable note in the context of this outbreak and the additional pressure it has placed the hospitals under is the excellent news that they were able this morning to continue with elective surgery at both hospitals without any interruption. I think it is a reflection of how well the activation of the plans has gone and the commitment of staff of ACT Health and Calvary to manage an unfolding situation.
MADAM SPEAKER: Dr Bourke, supplementary question.
DR BOURKE: Minister, how many people have been admitted to hospital as a result of the outbreak?
MS GALLAGHER: I thank Dr Bourke for the question. I have been receiving regular updates since yesterday from the health emergency control centre. As of midday today, there were over 80 cases of illness reported relating to one restaurant, with 13 cases of suspected food-borne illness admitted to both Canberra and Calvary hospitals—shared between those two—and over 20 cases of illness have been reported in relation to the second restaurant. It is not believed that these are likely to be salmonella and the cases from the two restaurants are unrelated. The ACT Ambulance Service is reporting this morning that there were not any calls overnight relating to the food-borne illness outbreak.
MADAM SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Ms Berry.
MS BERRY: Minister, what other health services are available to people whilst hospitals are under pressure?
MS GALLAGHER: Part of the information that has been provided to the community is that the hospitals are experiencing higher than normal presentations. At Canberra Hospital yesterday I think the final figure was 222 presentations in a 24-hour period, of which around 80 people were admitted to hospital. So it was a very busy day yesterday. Calvary was no different.
We have been advising people of the other options. We have been working with the Medicare local, again under the activation of the emergency plan. It gives us the opportunity to work with non-government health service providers, and I thank them for their help in assisting us with this outbreak. We are advertising, of course, that the walk-in centre is there for people. The GPs are providing excellent care for people. CALMS, the after-hour GP service, of course, was seeing people through the night. And the community pharmacist is a place where people can go and get some initial advice. Also there is healthdirect, a 24 hours a day, seven days a week phone line.
Of course, if a person is seriously ill, they should always present to the hospital emergency department at either Canberra or Calvary. They will be seen. But for minor illnesses, injuries and other non-urgent health complaints, we are still encouraging people to use one of the alternative options.
MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Ms Porter.