Page 3137 - Week 09 - Tuesday, 22 August 2017

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has not translated into action. She was tight-lipped on the data problem. She has been tight-lipped on the switchboard problem and the associated fires. I would have been happy to work with her on these two issues, but instead she chose the route of spin and secrecy.

Last year Mr Hanson raised concerns about the integrity of ACT health data. His initial concerns were about the integrity of Canberra Hospital emergency department data. As the Health Directorate looked further into the issues, it became clear that the problem extended further, including elective surgery and mental health. At one stage, the ACT Auditor-General was considering qualifying the health department’s financial report because of the poor state of the health data. The Auditor-General was concerned that the lack of integrity of the health data would have an impact on the integrity of the directorate’s financial statements. The poor state of ACT Health’s data meant that it missed the deadline to submit data to the Institute of Health and Welfare in October 2016. As a result, some of the ACT’s data was excluded from the Productivity Commission’s report on government services.

Minister Fitzharris and Minister Rattenbury knew of these problems in November 2016. When both ministers received their advance copies of the Productivity Commission’s report into government services in mid-January, it was clear that the missing data had not been submitted on time. Yet neither minister was prepared to tell the Assembly or the community until the ROGS report came out on 1 February. The Labor Party culture of spin and secrecy remained alive and well. Both the previous ministers, Ms Gallagher and Mr Corbell, made claims that the emergency department waiting times at the Canberra Hospital were improving. Both Ms Gallagher and Mr Corbell were subsequently proven wrong. On 1 August Minister Fitzharris made the following statement in the Assembly:

We have significantly upgraded the Canberra Hospital emergency department, which I note is one of the 10 busiest emergency departments in the whole country. Despite this, we are seeing our … waiting times coming down.

I find this claim difficult to believe. This year Australia is recorded as having one of the worst flu seasons, as I have already touched upon. As at 15 August, there were 70,000 recorded cases across Australia, with 30,000 cases in July alone. It has laid low many workplaces and many schools. I know that one school in Canberra yesterday recorded 150 absences due to flu. We are hearing of reports of code yellow incidents this month at the Canberra Hospital due to the hospital not being able to cope with demand. We have constituents telling us of people on trolleys waiting to be admitted and of there being standing room only in the emergency department.

I have received complaints from constituents who left the hospital because they had taken sick relatives to the hospital who were immunocompromised and took the prudential decision that they were better off sick at home, rather than being in the emergency department waiting areas where there was no capacity to isolate people who were immunocompromised from the other people in the hospital waiting area. As a result, they ended up making the prudential judgement that they were better off at home rather than seeking medical treatment in the hospital’s emergency department.

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