Page 618 - Week 02 - Thursday, 20 February 2020

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program through Housing ACT participation grants to ensure that people who would not ordinarily get the chance to be able to afford to play sport are able to get that through access to those grants. We also have through our schools bursary finances for students in our schools to pay for their school fees and sports fees. As well, Every Chance to Play, a charity organisation that the ACT government has partnered with, also targets support for participation in sports for those people who need that support most.

Hospitals—emergency department waiting times

MRS DUNNE: My question is to the Minister for Health. Minister, the half-yearly report for Canberra Health Services, tabled in the Assembly last week, shows that only 38 per cent per cent of all patients who presented to the Canberra Hospital emergency department during the second half of 2019 were seen on time and that only 20 per cent of patients in the urgent category were seen in the half-hour time frame allocated for urgent category patients. Minister, why were only 38 per cent of patients who presented to the emergency department seen within the clinically recommended time?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Mrs Dunne for her question and for the opportunity to talk about our emergency department performance, because I know that it is not where I would want it to be, and it is not where Canberrans expect it to be, in terms of those numbers on a page. But I also know that there is a lot of positive feedback about emergency department performance.

A number of changes are being implemented. In addition to the timely care strategy that I have talked about previously, and specifically at Canberra Hospital’s emergency department, it is about learning some of the lessons from our peer hospitals around the country and things that they have instituted over time. From next week, as I understand it, a multidisciplinary approach to ensure assessment and treatment will be commencing, ensuring that more patients commence care as soon as possible. Of course, that is what these particular data refer to.

That includes earlier physician engagement in the care provided, as well as expanded nurse protocols or approved pathways: putting someone on a physician or a nurse pathway early and starting treatment early. I refer also to working to streamline admission processes, ensuring that emergency department physicians can make faster decisions to admit to wards across the hospital and a sharper focus across all divisions on admission from the emergency department, as well as on discharge, which is a key element of the timely care strategy, and diagnostics and support services.

All of this is being undertaken to ensure more timely patient flow. We are also exploring the expansion of the rapid assessment models of care, including the emergency medical unit. One of the things that has been identified in looking at other peer hospitals and comparable emergency departments is that our emergency medical unit is not of a size to be comparable to those, so that is something else that Canberra Hospital is looking at.

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