Page 1620 - Week 06 - Tuesday, 12 May 2015

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Canberra Hospital—emergency department

MR SMYTH: My question is to the Minister for Health. Minister, on 13 April the Canberra Times reported that in the Canberra Hospital emergency department “bed shortages at the hospital meant some patients had to be treated in hallways”. Minister, in Australia’s most expensive hospital to run, why have patients in the TCH ED been treated in hallways?

MR CORBELL: There is no doubt that our emergency department is under significant pressure, and when the emergency department gets busy, our emergency department staff take the appropriate steps to make sure people get the care that they need in as timely a fashion as possible. The government is working very hard to provide further support to our emergency department physicians, nurses and other staff.

In particular, to that end, it is well worth confirming that we are currently embarking on a project to expand the emergency department at the Canberra Hospital. Work has started on that project. The expansion will provide for 21 additional beds in the emergency department. That includes nine more acute beds for patients with severe conditions, three more beds or cubicles for patients with less severe problems, three more beds in the emergency management unit, which provides care for short-term patients, two more paediatric beds, two more resuscitation bays, a new mental health assessment unit, which I believe is critically needed, and three more ambulance bays.

This is a very significant investment. It increases the capacity of our emergency department effectively by a third. It has been warmly welcomed by the ED staff—doctors, nurses and other allied health staff. It is a very important project, and that is how we are supporting the work of our doctors and nurses at the Canberra Hospital to meet the ever-increasing demand they see presenting through the doors of the emergency department.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Smyth.

MR SMYTH: Minister, how many TCH ED patients have been treated in hallways?

MR CORBELL: All patients at the emergency department are treated appropriately and with a very high level of care. When the emergency department gets busy all available spaces are utilised.

Mr Hanson: On a point of order, on relevance.

MADAM SPEAKER: On a point of order. Could you stop the clock, please.

Mr Hanson: The minister may be getting to it, but the question was very specific about how many patients have been treated in hallways—not what the nature of that care was but how many have been treated in hallways. I would ask the minister to provide a specific number or maybe come back to this place with that number.

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