Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2013 Week 2 Hansard (13 February) . . Page.. 447..
fantastic to see an improvement in our emergency departments. It would be fantastic if we could find a way that did that, even if it is incremental. I do not expect miracles overnight.
Or are we going to say, "No, the government has got this under control,"when clearly it has not, when 11 years of evidence will show that it has not? So I commend my motion to the Assembly. We do need someone to look at this. The Auditor-General is the right authority to do that. I also would like to acknowledge the other part of the motion, which is in reference to acknowledging what good work the staff do—and they do. It is difficult for them. It is difficult on a whole bunch of levels. We as an Assembly need to recognise that.
MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Chief Minister, Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Health and Minister for Higher Education) (11.04): I welcome the opportunity to talk about public hospital emergency departments. I would like to congratulate Mr Hanson on the change in approach he has adopted on the first day of being Leader of the Opposition in this house. It is very refreshing to see nice Jeremy come out for a play. Hopefully he will stay around for a bit longer.
Mr Hanson: Till we see nice Katy.
MS GALLAGHER: You always see nice Katy.
Mr Hanson: Really?
MS GALLAGHER: Yes. Always, always. It is who I am—nice. Perhaps too nice, I think, for politics sometimes.
As to Mr Hanson's motion, firstly, I welcome him acknowledging the outstanding work of the staff in the Canberra Hospital and Calvary hospital emergency departments. It is very important to have a motion or an element of a motion that can be supported that sends that message to our staff. I really do not think people understand the politicisation of the emergency department that occurred in the last year and the impact that has had on staff. I think we got a taste of it during the election campaign when Mr Hanson took some very difficult questions from doctors and nurses in the emergency department about how they felt about how they had been portrayed in the media over their own work performance. So that is refreshing, and I will make sure that staff in both emergency departments understand that that has been discussed in the Assembly today. Perhaps it will go some way to dealing with the damage that has been done to the reputations of those health professionals in the past and, in particular, over the past year.
When we look at the emergency department, the last financial year was the busiest on record—118,000 presentations, a 17 per cent increase on presentations that have occurred over the last three years. This high level of demand has continued into the last year, 2012-13, with almost 60,000 presentations to the emergency departments in the first six months of 2012-13. We have also seen higher acuity presentations, up six per cent, as categories 1, 2 and 3 in particular are requiring a much higher level of care.