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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 5 Hansard (7 May) . .

Page.. 1534..

There will always be ways and areas where we need to improve productivity and efficiency. That is this government's focus—to continue to work on further improving access to our public health system and to hospital services. But with most services the community need, they are able to access them in a timely fashion. If you turn up at our emergency departments in need of urgent attention, you get that attention immediately. While there is still work to be done to improve times for all people who attend our emergency departments, those most in need get seen and treated straight away.

The same goes for those who arrive at our hospitals and need life or limb saving surgery. Ninety-eight per cent of people assessed as needing urgent access to elective surgery are admitted for surgery within that time frame. Ninety-eight per cent of people who need urgent radiotherapy services as part of their cancer treatment get their treatment within that standard time frame. Ninety-eight per cent of women who book a breast screen appointment get their screen within 28 days. Ninety-three per cent of women get their assessment following their breast screen within the same period. Seventy-one per cent of people who are discharged from a mental health in-patient facility are followed up within seven days, the best result in the country.

We have seen some other important areas of service delivery. Almost 17,000 Canberrans have sought services at the two new walk-in centres over the first six months of this financial year, up from 10,000 for the same period last year when only one was operating at the Canberra Hospital alone. Of course, we now have wonderful new walk-in centres in other parts of the city as well. The waiting time for public dental surgery—at four months for the first six months of 2014—was three months better than the previous year and well below the figure of 12 months being reported just a year ago.

These are all examples of where we are prioritising and improving timeliness and access to public health services. However, a well-funded health system goes beyond the bricks and mortar of our hospital and health facilities. I would like to highlight the importance of investing in other areas, like population health services and health promotion initiatives to support a healthier community, to encourage healthy lifestyles and options. As a government we must also fund public infrastructure that supports healthy lifestyles. There is no doubt that investing in better public transport is one way to improve people's lifestyles, to encourage them to be more active in their day-to-day journeys.

Car travel drives a highly sedentary lifestyle, not on its own but in combination with a range of other behaviours. Public transport encourages people to walk, to cycle or to have mixed journeys. Active transport and good public transport go hand in hand. The evidence is overwhelming from the public health academics, from the transport academics, from the literature internationally: investing in good, accessible, frequent public transport encourages more people to walk or to cycle and to be more active. It is for that reason that the government sees investments like the capital metro project as central to creating a more active city.

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