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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 4 Hansard (24 March) . .

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investor confidence in the ACT, if you really want the university to go ahead and if you want everyone in our community to benefit, this is not the way to go about it.

Debate interrupted in accordance with standing order 74 and the resumption of the debate made an order of the day for a later hour.

Sitting suspended from 12.28 to 2.30 pm.

Questions without notice

Hospitals—waiting times

MR HANSON: Madam Speaker, my question is to the Minister for Health. Minister, in 2004-05 and 2005-06, when you were last Minister for Health, the Canberra Hospital's emergency department had the worst record for seeing patients on time in the country. In 2013-14 Canberra's emergency waiting times were the second worst in Australia. The latest quarterly report, released on 19 March, shows that the ED waiting times were, overall, worse than last year and patients wait longer than the year before. Minister, why have we had the longest waiting times for ED in the country for over a decade?

MR CORBELL: I thank Mr Hanson for his question. As the previous Minister for Health has explained in this place on many occasions, and which I can only reiterate, when it is compared with the operation of its peer hospitals, similar sized hospitals like John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle, we know that our emergency department is performing largely consistently with those peer hospitals.

As the former Minister for Health has said, there are reasons why a small jurisdiction with only one tertiary treatment hospital is unlike the larger network that exists in New South Wales. Where some emergency departments, such as in country and regional areas, are not particularly busy and others in larger metropolitan areas are extremely busy, it tends to even out the performance of jurisdictions when it comes to their reporting on this measure.

In this case, we know that the ACT, due to its size and scale, is in a fairly unique set of circumstances. The most recent report, to which the Leader of the Opposition refers, highlights that there was also a five per cent increase in admissions at the emergency department for the quarter reported compared to the previous 12-month period. So we know very clearly that we continue to see significant increases in demand.

As minister, I am very focused on ensuring that we continue to make investments to improve the capacity of our emergency department. That is why, in the coming months, work will commence on the expansion of the emergency department at the Canberra Hospital. This is part of this Labor government's commitment to increase capacity, to employ more nurses and doctors in our emergency department and build more beds in our emergency department. That is a multimillion dollar project committed to by this government, which is on track. Members will see those works commence in the coming months.


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