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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 2 Hansard (7 March) . . Page.. 387..


MR CORBELL (continuing):

The government is working to address the problems in our public hospital system. The most recent article about access block and overcrowded emergency departments has, as expected, led to wild claims from those opposite about the health system. But these are scare tactics which are baseless and which only serve to reduce public confidence.

Even the person who wrote the report about the Canberra Hospital suggested caution in interpreting the results. In an interview on ABC radio yesterday, journalist Ross Solly asked the author of the ACT report, Associate Professor Drew Richardson, whether he had heard my remarks on his research in which I noted that the studies outcomes do not say that overcrowding is the cause of additional deaths. Dr Richardson's response was this:

I'd say the minister's absolutely right. This was not a causative study.

I do not suggest that this report should be buried but I, like the author, believe that further research is necessary before further conclusions can be reached. No-one is saying that overcrowding is a good thing; it is not. However, overcrowding does occur when there are a number of seriously ill people in the emergency department in the first place. So let us stop playing on people's fears. Let us address the issues. And let us not do it in a simplistic way. Let us do it in a comprehensive and informed way.

The ACT government knows where the pressures are, and we put in place the measures to address it. Improving capacity, working with our doctors and nurses, providing for additional resources, improving bed numbers, providing more facilities, putting in place better work practices-all of these things improve the management of the ACT public health system.

As I said at question time today, this Assembly and this community deserve better than what they are getting from the opposition. They deserve better than parrot-like claims that simply providing 100 new beds fixes every problem. The reality is more complex than that. We do not live in some fairytale world; we do not live in some world where you snap your fingers, provide more beds and everything will be great. It does not work that way. And our community deserves better from an opposition when it comes to contributing to the public health debate.

Public health is about improving services, about better management, about increased capacity. We are doing that and we are getting the results. Access block is down, waiting times are down, elective surgery lists are down. We will continue to address these issues in a comprehensive, not simplistic way.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella-Leader of the Opposition) (4.19): Mr Deputy Speaker, that was vintage Minister for Health! In attacking the opposition the minister said that this community and this Assembly deserve better, and he is right. But the community and the Assembly deserve better from the minister and from the government. The minister is playing games with words and affecting people's lives.

During question time Mr Corbell said that 600 staff have provided the answers that are going to be put into place. As I have always said whenever I do an interview, this is not a reflection on the staff, the nurses, the doctors or the allied health workers. The state of


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