Page 2213 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 3 August 2016

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Questions without notice

Centenary Hospital for Women and Children—staffing

MR HANSON: My question is to the Minister for Health. The Canberra Times reported on 23 July 2016 that staff were under pressure at the women’s and children’s hospital. The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation ACT branch secretary, Jenny Miragaya, was quoted as saying that there had been a number of “critical incident” notices about staffing numbers. She said there had been “rumblings” for “at least six months”. The union said that it was conducting site visits at the hospital. Minister, how many “critical incident notices” have been lodged at the women’s and children’s hospital in the past six months?

MR CORBELL: I thank Mr Hanson for his question. I will have to take on notice the specific number of the matters he asks about, but in relation more generally to the delivery of maternity services at the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children at the Canberra Hospital, what I can say is that we have a very high level of staffing at the facility. Indeed, from my briefing from the Health Directorate earlier this week I can advise that there were only a handful of vacancies, fewer than five, in the total staffing complement. That is a very low level given the relative level of turnover you would expect in a large organisation like the Health Directorate. Nevertheless, my directorate continues to work hard to identify people to be placed in those positions.

Further, I am pleased to say that we are seeing a very high level of support from the community for the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children. This is a multimillion dollar project that has been delivered by this Labor government, a state-of-the-art women’s and children’s hospital for our community. Canberrans, particularly Canberra women, are voting with their feet. They want to see their children born in this facility because it has modern facilities and very capable and highly skilled staff.

Overall, across the ACT health system we have sufficient capacity to meet the overall number of births for our city. That is across both Calvary public hospital and the Canberra Hospital through the centenary hospital. However, the challenge remains that many women choose and prefer to give birth at the centenary hospital because of the very modern nature of the facilities there, and we will continue to work hard to manage demand associated with the choices that those women legitimately make.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Hanson.

MR HANSON: Minister, how many of the critical incident notices specifically related to staff shortages and at any time were patients, both mothers and children, put at risk?

MR CORBELL: I am not aware of any instances where there has been any risk to mothers or their children. It is simply the case, as I have indicated in my previous answer, that the total number of vacancies in the staffing complement at the centenary hospital is only a handful, in single figures, and it is a matter that we continue to work hard to address.

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