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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 8 Hansard (13 August) . .

Page.. 2460..

This budget prioritises health. There will be an additional 154 full-time equivalent positions for ACT Health, which includes a combination of medical staff, nurses, health professionals and administrative staff. We will also have $122 million over four years allocated to continue the government's investment in health infrastructure, and this will go to projects such as the secure mental health unit, Calvary car park—which I know members will be very pleased to see start—Calvary hospital refurbishment for extra beds, and other essential infrastructure work being done at the Canberra Hospital.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Ms Porter.

MS PORTER: Minister, how is the government investing in community health services?

MS GALLAGHER: I thank Ms Porter for the supplementary. Again it will be no surprise to members that, when asked, people would like to be able to use health services as close to home as possible. They want to keep hospitals as places they have to go to when they need to, but to a large extent most of our services can be delivered closer to where people live. These were the issues that led to the decisions that we took about refurbishing and expanding our community-based health services, starting in Belconnen and Tuggeranong, and also opening the new one in Gungahlin just a couple of years ago.

The budget contains $11.7 million for more services and staff at the community health centres and for the walk-in centres. It also includes extra funding for community nursing to ensure that we are able to do more community nursing visits at home, and extra money for mental health care as well. Again the majority of our mental health services are offered to people at home or in community-based settings. Despite a lot of the focus being on the inpatient unit, the majority of the treatment, care and support occurs in the community. Over time, we will continue to build these services because we want to make sure that the hospital remains a place where people go who need hospital treatment. For anyone visiting the hospital that can be cared for in the community, at home, under other alternatives, I think that is welcomed by patients and it is better for the system overall.

MADAM SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Ms Berry.

MS BERRY: Minister, how much is the government investing in beds in ACT hospitals?

MS GALLAGHER: I thank Ms Berry for the question. The year 2014-15 will see us provide an additional 31 inpatient hospital beds in the 2014-15 financial year. Sixteen of these beds will be opened at the Canberra Hospital. These beds will be in the area vacated by the children's wards that have moved from the tower block to the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children. These beds will come on line in September. This initiative will also see an increase of 39 staff to staff those extra beds.

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