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Wednesday, 12 February 1986
Page: 174


Senator REID —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Territories. I refer to the recently released Sax report on nursing within Canberra public hospitals, which concludes that patient care has deteriorated to such an extent that babies are not receiving rostered feeds and patients are at risk through the breakdown in our hospital system. This is a totally unacceptable situation. Other than merely referring the report to the Australian Capital Territory Health Authority, what action will the Government take to rectify this scandalous situation? How long will it take to implement some real solutions?


Senator GIETZELT —Senator Reid asked me a question about the report of the Sax Independent Inquiry into Nursing Services within the Australian Capital Territory Health Authority. My briefing from the Minister indicates that the report is receiving consideration by the Government. It was dated 31 January 1986 and identifies a number of issues for management attention as well as the problems that have been raised by the Royal Australian Nursing Federation relating to staffing problems in the Australian Capital Territory hospital system. As well as identifying the problems of a local nature that have been referred to, the report reflects the Australia-wide problem confronting the nursing profession and the need to take measures on a broad front to overcome these problems. The Australian Capital Territory Health Authority is already taking steps to solve some of these problems, particularly those of a local nature, within its existing confines. It has set up a joint review team to review such matters as nurse recruitment, career structure, skills mix, education, child care and facilities and the like. On the broader issue, the Authority is involved in discussions with the Public Service Board and the Department of Veterans' Affairs, because there are nine hospitals within the responsibility of my portfolio, about the need to develop a better career structure for nurses in Commonwealth hospitals. The more precise terms of the Sax inquiry are receiving the urgent consideration of the Government and we will be in a position shortly to make a full disclosure of the Government's acceptance or otherwise of the recommendations.