Page 2640 - Week 09 - Wednesday, 7 August 2013
Again, the minister was saying one thing and people in the community take that at face value. They want to believe what their ministers say. But again what we have is not the full picture. The full picture was that the health experts, the health officials were saying do not do it, and Katy Gallagher ignored that advice.
The last time she did that, it caused chaos at the ED. I want to make sure with this motion that we actually know what that advice is. So it is pretty straightforward. What I want to know is: what is that advice? What is it that the health experts have been saying to Katy Gallagher that in this case she has been ignoring? I think that is pretty reasonable. I think that she should table that advice and give an explanation of it.
We want the facts on the table so we can make a valid assessment, so the community can get a full picture of what has been proposed, because the last time, it was only after the fact that we found out the truth about what was being advised about the walk-in centre. If the community had known that the experts were all saying, “This will increase pressure on your ED; you will end up waiting longer,” which is exactly what turned out, I do not think Katy Gallagher would have been out there with any credibility saying, “This is going to fix our EDs. This is going to take off the pressure,” which is what she was doing and which is entirely disingenuous.
I think it is reasonable that when we now know again there is a pattern of behaviour, we want to see the advice so that we can ask, “Is she again going to do something at our ED, as she did last time, that is going to actually make the situation worse rather than better?”
I accept that this does get mired in politics. I think that if we are going to make sure that the objective assessment of whether the paediatric stream is right or not, whether the walk-in centre is the right strategy there or not, whether doctors should be employed or not, let us take it out of this arena. Let us give it to the Auditor-General, and say, “You do a review and tell us whether it is going to be a good idea and what else can be done.” I continually ask for that to happen. The Chief Minister refuses to let it happen and we see ED waiting times get longer. I again call on this Assembly to get the Auditor-General to do that work for us.
MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Chief Minister, Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Health and Minister for Higher Education) (3.55): The government will not support Mr Hanson’s motion, but we welcome the opportunity to talk, again, about the very successful nurse-led walk-in centre model that I was the minister responsible for implementing and which has now seen over 21,000 presentations in the last financial year and also to talk about the paediatric emergency department, which will commence construction this calendar year. That is another measure to improve the emergency department in amenity for patients but also for staff.
I start by saying that it is important that ministers test and challenge and question advice from officials. I have been in a range of different situations where I have not accepted the advice from my directorate. But in terms of official briefings to me as minister, they did not say to me at the time we signed on with the commonwealth that a walk-in centre on the Canberra Hospital site would increase emergency department