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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 5 Hansard (31 May) . . Page.. 1294..


MS MacDONALD: My question is also to Ms Gallagher in her capacity as Minister for Health. Minister, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare's Australian hospital statistics 2005-06 report was released today. Could you update the Assembly on the report's findings for the ACT?

MS GALLAGHER: I thank Ms MacDonald for the question. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report shows significant improvements in our public hospital system but that there are still areas where we need to do further work. The areas highlighted in this report that demonstrate the positives that are occurring in the health system are that our recurrent expenditure has increased by 8.7 per cent from the previous year. At the same time we are increasing health expenditure to ensure that we meet increasing demand, a key efficiency measure.

Mrs Burke: Same old—

MS GALLAGHER: You had better listen to this, Mrs Burke, because you have to learn your portfolio and it is a little technical, so maybe save your interjections and listen to a bit of—

Opposition members interjecting—

MS GALLAGHER: Mr Smyth knew all this, so I did not—

Opposition members interjecting—

MS GALLAGHER: No. Mr Smyth had some expertise in these technical matters. Mr Speaker, if the opposition stopped interjecting, the opposition spokesperson on health might start understanding some of these more complex issues that occur in the health system. I will just walk you through some of the positives because the media release that Mrs Burke put out earlier today clearly showed that she has not understood the report in its entirety at all.

The relative stay index continues to improve. What we are heading for with patient length of stay is a figure of one, and we have come from 1.06 in 2002 to below one, to 0.97, in this reporting year. A measure of one means that you are running an efficient system and for the first time we are below that measure—again a positive.

Another key positive of the report shows that the public hospitals provided the highest level of separations per 1,000 population of any public hospital system in the nation. In 2005-06 the rate increased to 238.4 people per 1,000 population whereas the national average was 213. This shows that we have a population that uses fewer hospital services on average than the rest of the nation but we have a high utilisation rate for public hospital services. This is against the context of having a population with the highest level of private health insurance in the nation.

What that says to us is that people are choosing to come to the public hospital system. It shows confidence in the hospital system, which is supported by other data in this

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