Debates Day 5 - Wednesday 28 February 2001
Parliamentary Record 27
Debates for 8th Assembly 1997 - 2001; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 8th Assembly 1997 - 2001
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Wednesday 28 February 2001 said to me that it would absolutely distress him if his father had nowhere to go. Is the minister suggesting that people with dementia under medication are confined to their beds and are not walking around Royal Darwin Hospital and I am wrong, wrong, wrong? I say I am right, right, right and he is in complete denial about what is happening in our hospital system. The minister and Dr Notaras make much of the fact that patients are admitted to hospital because they have a medical condition. Well, talk about stating the blindingly obvious! Ninety-nine percent of all nursing home residents will also have a medical condition. They are in a nursing home because of their condition and the fact they and their families are no longer able to care for them. The same applies to those senior Territorians at Royal Darwin Hospital awaiting beds. They are admitted to RDH because of their condition and the fact there are no nursing home beds available to move into. So, apart from this anecdotal confirmation that up to 30 senior Territorians are being cared for at RDH awaiting nursing home beds, let us look at other evidence to support this claim. The minister confirmed in the appropriation debate last June that 17 senior Territorians were being cared for in RDH awaiting a nursing home bed. We have the minister on the public record saying there were 17 people, and 23 across the Territory. The minister has stated he had empathy for their plight. The minister, in June last year, stated that hospital-based care is inappropriate. How his tune has changed! In this statement, he does not talk of inappropriate care; there is veiled abuse and self-congratulatory rhetoric. I also asked the minister in appropriations about the definitive waiting list for entry into nursing homes across the Territory as of June 2000. This was the paper he tabled. It stated there were 31 people awaiting nursing home beds in Darwin and 26 awaiting hostel accommodation. Both of these sets of figures are also contained in the THS annual report. Why hasnt the minister referred to these figures from his own department and the documents he tabled in this House in June last year to ascertain the state of the shortage of nursing home and hostel facilities in the Northern Territory? The reason is he doesnt want the true story to be told. One of the first organisations I spoke to about the shortage of nursing home beds was the Council on the Ageing. This is the peak body for seniors in the Northern Territory. It knows what is going on around the place. Doctor Notaras put out the fire created by the minister - given that the minister wasnt prepared to face the television cameras himself - and he stated that there were only nine Territorians at that time. That may well have been the case. People move in and out of hospital. And, unfortunately, people die in nursing homes and beds became available. There may well have been nine at that particular time, but all the evidence I was receiving from NGOs, from documents tabled in this House, and from people at Anglicare who were visiting elderly Territorians at Royal Darwin Hospital disclosed there were significant numbers, up to 30 at any one time, in Royal Darwin Hospital. Let us look at the press release from the Council on the Ageing. It states: The statistics in that report [that is the annual report] clearly state that there were 17 older Territorians awaiting places in appropriate accommodation as o f 15 June 2000. Reports from the Australian Nurses Federation [who should know; its their members who look after these senior Territorians] and other service providers claim that the number has been as high as 30 at different times. We have the minister in complete denial of the scale of the problem. Miss Hillman further stated: Concerns expressed by other organisations are not a reflection on the quality o f care by hospital staff, but rather a clear indication o f the continuing lack o f appropriate residential facilities fo r senior Territorians. The staff at Royal Darwin Hospital do their best for these patients under difficult circumstances. These patients remain in the hospital for prolonged periods o f time due to the absence o f available beds in other facilities. The fact remains that basic rights of these folk to appropriate and safe accommodation has been denied due to an ongoing shortfall in funding o f Territory aged care facilities and services. Here is the peak body stating exactly what I was claiming - that there were significant shortages in aged care beds and significant numbers of people were, consequently, being cared for at Royal Darwin Hospital. Minister, if we dont have a problem or if the problem is not as significant, as the minister alludes to in his statement, why have we been allocated an additional 50 beds from the Commonwealth in the current funding round? If the need is not there, if I am imagining all this and this is a member for Wanguri beat up, why has the Commonwealth seen fit to allocate an additional 50 beds in this round? 7514
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