Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 10 Hansard (16 October) . . Page.. 2924..
MR CORBELL (continuing):
But we are not just focused on resources and improving capacity. We are also focused on making things work more efficiently within the hospital. For example, we have established the fast track system, which identifies patients that do not require complex care. These patients are then redirected to the fast track zone area of the emergency department where they can be provided with appropriate and timely treatment enabling their discharge within two hours.
We have implemented the 3-2-1 patient tracking system which divides the journey for patients that are admitted from the ED into three manageable time periods which cover ED treatment of three hours, inpatient handover of two hours and transfer to a ward bed of one hour. These are good examples of the government's commitment not just to improving resourcing but also to improving the administration of the hospital and improving the system itself to provide more timely care to people who need it.
The results of these initiatives are worth reciting. Access block at our hospitals in the fourth quarter of 2006-07 was 26.3 per cent, well down from the 33 per cent reported for 2005-06 and well below the 44 per cent reported for the fourth quarter of 2004-05. This is the lowest access block figure for over three years. Again, it is a strong indicator of the government's commitment to improving access to hospital services. Emergency department access block was 27 per cent. This is a reduction of five per cent from the 33 per cent access block reported 12 months ago. So access block continues to go down in the hospital as we improve capacity and improve systems.
Another very timely figure is the hospital bed occupancy rate, which in 2006-07 was 91 per cent, compared with 97 per cent for the same quarter last financial year. This is a very significant result and it further shows that we are improving the capacity of the hospital to operate at optimum level while having that essential surge capacity that is needed when things get busy. Finally, ambulance off-stretcher times continue to improve, with 93 per cent of patients offloaded from ambulances within 20 minutes of arrival at the ED. This is an improvement over the 89.6 per cent reported for 2005-06.
None of these things would have been made possible without the additional $320 million that the Labor government has added to the health budget since coming to office. We will continue our endeavours in this regard. (Time expired.)
Health—overseas trained doctors
MRS BURKE: My question is to the Minister for Health and is regarding the processing of overseas trained doctors who wish to live and work in Canberra. After an international search lasting several months, Dr Thinus van Rensburg, who has a medical practice in Charnwood and bulk-bills 80 per cent of patients, found a suitably qualified applicant. Dr van Rensburg, in trying to work through the approval processes, has received nothing but conflicting information on the documentation that would be required for the assessment panel and on the assessment time lines, ranging from six to eight weeks to six to eight months. As at 11 October, nearly four weeks after the lodgement of the application, Dr van Rensburg had been advised by telephone that the assessment panel had not been formed, but he had also received a