Parliamentary record : Part I debates (16 February 1989)
Debates for 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990
Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
Northern Territory Legislative Assembly
Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)
Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Thursday 16 February 1989 Mr Dale: Talk about the Regional Director saying what happened down there. Mr BELL: I appeal to you, Mr Speaker Mr SPEAKER: Order! Both honourable members will address their remarks through the Chair. Mr BELL: With respect, Mr Speaker, I have been doing so. Mr Speaker, I would like to point out to the Minister for Health and Community Services that if he wants to carry out a conversation like that and prevent my getting through the fairly copious material I have on this subject, he should be prepared to grant me an extension of time. I will read the document in toto if he wishes. Mr Dale: Right. Mr BELL: Mr Speaker, the document reads: Several sections of the Tennant Creek community have expressed concern for the safety and security of patients and staff at Tennant Creek Hospital. Recent letters have been received from the Tennant Creek Hospital Management Board, the member for Barkly, private medical practitioners and various members of the nursing staff. The major issue is that of caring for brain-damaged patients at Tennant Creek Hospital. The general security of nurses after hours is being raised concurrently by nursing staff. The central figure in the issue of caring for brain-damaged patients at Tennant Creek Hospital is a 17-year-ald Aboriginal male who received severe brain damage from a motor vehicle accident. He has been to the Julia Farr Centre in Adelaide and Royal Darwin Hospital for rehabilitation, but is now in Tennant Creek Hospital. He is a major management problem for the nursing staff as he can be violent and is often very noisy. Because of this, he is often sedated and physically restrained - ie tied to a bed or chair. The medical and nursing staff are particularly upset by this as most think it is inappropriate and inhumane to the patient. Many nurses have been physically assaulted by this patient. The effect on nursing morale has been devastating. There have been 7 resignations in recent weeks. It has been. necessary to employ agency nurses from Adelaide to replace many of these. The Medical Superintendent has corresponded and had discussions with the Regional Director regarding this issue, but there are limited resources in this region for the adequate care of such patients. As a short-term solution the patient is to be transferred to Ward 1, Alice Springs Hospital, for intensive rehabilitation. However, this is not a long-term solution as he will ultimately need extensive, ongoing support from the Department of Health and Community Services, whether it be for institutional care or community-based support. A major difficulty to be overcome before this boy can be considered for accommodation outside of hospital is that of independent feeding. He is currently dependent on gavage feeding for survival. The second issue of security of nursing staff after hours was triggered by an incident that occurred in the early hours of 5558
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