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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 13 Hansard (19 November) . .

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MR CORBELL: It is not for me to speculate on that. That is determined through the market testing process. As I said earlier, there was at least one Canberra-based consortium that came forward in the expression of interest process.

Hospitals—emergency waiting times

MRS JONES: My question is to Minister for Health. Today's AIHW report on emergency departments around Australia for 2014-15 shows that over the past five years the ACT has had a slower average growth—3.7 per cent—in emergency presentations than the rest of the country—4.5 per cent. Despite these increases elsewhere, the rest of the country has continued to improve ED waiting to 74 per cent on time this year. Meanwhile, the ACT has seen waiting times get worse—61 per cent on time last year and only 59 per cent on time this year. In the ACT we have worse ED waiting times that are getting even worse while the rest of the country has better performance which is getting better. Minister, how can ACT ED wait times continue to get worse when demand is not increasing as fast as in the rest of the country?

MR CORBELL: I welcome the release of the AIHW report today. I thank Mrs Jones for the question because it does highlight where the challenges are in our hospital system and where we are doing well. The bottom line is that we are doing well, particularly in the highest priority cases where timeliness is being achieved and national targets are being met. In some of the lower acuteness categories we are not meeting those national targets.

One of the factors we are seeing at play is that we see a large number of category 5 presentations—the lowest acuteness category—in our hospitals compared to the national average. That is more people coming to the ED with the least serious of matters compared to the national average. Obviously low acuteness is a longer waiting time and a longer target, so that is a factor.

But I want to be clear that I am not interested in making excuses about where we are not meeting our targets; I am interested in fixing them. We are doing this in two ways: the first is that we are expanding the emergency department by 30 per cent—an extra 21 treatment spaces. That is underway right now and is due for completion at the end of next calendar year. The second is to look at how the systems and processes inside the hospital can be better engineered and better delivered to support the work of our clinicians and nurses and other health staff inside the emergency department so that people wait shorter periods of time to be seen and people are able to be admitted into the hospital more quickly, freeing up space in the emergency department for someone else to be seen.

These are the issues that my directorate has been heavily focused on in the past three to four months in particular. I am very pleased with the progress that has been made to date, and the government will be saying more about that and what steps can be taken in due course.

I also highlight that we have seen significant improvement in the past few years. Two years ago we were sitting at only around 50 per cent overall of timeliness compared to


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