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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 7 Hansard (5 June) . . Page.. 1928..


Canberra Hospital

MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, my question is for the Chief Minister and Minister for Health. Chief Minister, on 30 May, on radio station 2CC, in relation to problems with the Canberra Hospital, you said:

It is out of my hands . . . as things stand the hospital is administered pursuant to an act of parliament and the governing responsibility rests in the hand of the Board . . . I don't have a capacity to direct the hospital to do anything.

Chief Minister, section 13 of the Health and Community Care Services Act 1996 states:

The Board shall perform its functions and exercise its powers in accordance with any directions of the Minister.

Chief Minister, both your statement and section 13 of the act seem very clear. Which one is correct?

MR STANHOPE: No minister for health has ever accepted, nor should accept, responsibility for the micromanagement of the Canberra Hospital. The suggestion that any minister for health should become a public servant, or should become a hospital administrator, is absurd. It is interesting-it goes to the heart of some of the problems that I think we have experienced in the delivery of health services over the last six years. I think it goes to the heart of some of the difficulties that we have experienced: for instance, the settling of such things as nurses disputes, the management of the hospital, and the need to keep the hospital budget under control.

I think it involves issues such as exactly what the appropriate level of resourcing and funding for the Canberra Hospital is; to the extent to which we have a board, there is a separation; and that we apply the purchaser/provider model here in the ACT. Of course, it was those sorts of concerns that underpinned the decision that I made to commission Mick Reid, the immediate past Director General of Health for New South Wales, to undertake a major review in the delivery of health services in the ACT. It was the very issues related to the appropriate levels, styles and structures of the management of health here in the ACT that prompted that appointment.

There is a real concern implicit in the member's suggestion that ministers should manage the hospital, and should be responsible for the day-to-day management of a major institution such as the Canberra Hospital. I think there is a real need to understand the differences between the roles and responsibilities of ministers, of heads of department and of heads of major institutions, such as the hospital.

Mr Smyth: So you are not responsible?

MR STANHOPE: I am responsible for the delivery of excellent health services to the people of the ACT, something that was seriously lacking under the previous government. It was one of the reasons that, after seven years of Liberal government, the Liberals at the last election suffered such a significant defeat. That was why, at the last election, the people of Canberra returned this government with the largest majority that any


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