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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 1 Hansard (12 February) . .

Page.. 236..

The level of change that is anticipated by the federal budget in coming years will have a significant impact on a small public hospital system and it will be very challenging to manage major reductions in expenditure and services, both within health services and within other publicly provided services. Further, the abolition of funding by the federal government to important preventative health measures is extremely short sighted.

The Australian community strongly supports a universal healthcare model. Access to comprehensive primary health services works. It is not only good for our citizens; it is good for our economy. The entire community benefits from access to affordable health services. The imposition of any disincentives to use primary health care, such as through co-payments for access to GP services, will only increase demand on already busy emergency departments and/or result in less access to primary health care when people need it.

The health infrastructure program commenced by this government is about investing in Canberra's health by changing how and where health services are delivered. The health infrastructure program is the most significant investment in the history of Canberra's healthcare system. Since 2009, this Labor administration has invested, on behalf of the community, $876 million into the health infrastructure program.

There are four pillars to this program: models of care, infrastructure, technology and our workforce. It is a holistic approach to addressing our future healthcare needs and demands. Over the next 12 months, work on the health infrastructure program will continue. Design work will continue for the building 2/3 redevelopment at the Canberra Hospital. In addition, construction will commence on four significant projects: the Canberra Hospital emergency department interim expansion, the new University of Canberra public hospital, the secure mental health unit and the Ngunnawal bush healing farm. These projects will help to meet the needs of our community now and into the future. The projects will also boost and diversify our economy, providing hundreds of jobs for both clinical and construction staff.

I will deal with each of these projects: first of all, the building 2/3 development at the Canberra Hospital. In consideration for the redevelopment of buildings 2 and 3 at Canberra Hospital, key opportunities to manage demand for future health services were identified. These include the expected population growth, along with an ageing population and the rising prevalence of chronic and complex disease.

The opportunity has also been taken to review the existing infrastructure to determine its ability to deliver new models of care, which in turn will impact on community access to quality and safe health services. This project is a serious commitment by this Labor government to the future of our healthcare system.

Late last year, the government announced that it will be investing $23 million in the expansion of the emergency department at Canberra Hospital to help address and respond to the increasing presentation numbers to the ED. The emergency department is the region's major trauma centre. It treats more than 70,000 patients. The last financial year was the highest level of treatment ever recorded.

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