Page 3588 - Week 12 - Tuesday, 22 October 2013
Canberra Hospital—emergency department
MR COE: My question is to the Minister for Health. Minister, the latest emergency department figures have been released. Canberrans wait in emergency an average of 44 minutes compared to 19 minutes nationally. Independent figures show that our emergency department is getting worse as the rest of the country is getting better. The proportion of ED patients seen on time last year has dropped to the worst wait time since you became health minister. Minister, when will the performance of Canberra’s emergency department catch up to the Australian average?
MS GALLAGHER: I thank Mr Coe for the question. In relation to the emergency department performance, there is no doubt that we need to continue to work on timeliness and improve timeliness. But I would say that, against national benchmarks, it is going to be incredibly hard for Canberra hospitals—that is both Canberra and Calvary—to be measured against jurisdictional peers. That is going to be the simple reality, regardless of whether you vote for the Liberal Party or the Labor Party, if you take politics out of it. In New South Wales—
Mr Hanson: We used to be able to—
MS GALLAGHER: Well—
Mr Hanson: under the previous Liberal government.
MADAM SPEAKER: Order, Mr Hanson!
Mr Hanson: That is not true.
MADAM SPEAKER: Mr Hanson!
MS GALLAGHER: The hospital was a very different hospital 10 years ago, Mr Hanson. I think anyone who drives out there and has a look at the services on offer now would admit that it has grown from a district hospital or a medium sized hospital to one of very few tertiary referral hospital trauma centres in the country.
New South Wales has 220 hospitals included in their emergency department figures; 220. A small measure of them would measure similar activity to Canberra Hospital. The vast majority of them are small regional hospitals that do not deal with the presentation load, the complexity load, the trauma load that Canberra deals with, and that changes the results.
We have done an exercise where we have looked at local hospitals in our catchment. When you use their figures and our figures together, we get a much better result. So that is what is happening in a larger jurisdiction.
But I say that for information only. The point is that the doctors and the nurses at the hospital are totally focused on improving timeliness of care for people needing the emergency department. Everyone is 100 per cent focused on it. Our latest NEAT