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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 2 Hansard (18 February) . .

Page.. 614..


Questions without notice

Hospitals—emergency departments

MR HANSON: Madam Speaker, my question is to the Minister for Health. I refer to yesterday's Canberra Times headline "Emergency departments still struggling". In the past 10 years, despite Australian ED presentations increasing by 29 per cent, waiting times in Australia have improved by over five per cent. In the same period, ACT ED presentations have increased by only 24 per cent but in the ACT Health quarterly report you released this month, on three of five counts the ACT is not better than the 2004-05 annual result—when you were last health minister, I remind you. We have gone backwards. Minister, why is it that in the past 10 years ACT ED performance has got worse while performance in the rest of the country has got better despite the ACT facing lower demand?

MR CORBELL: I thank Mr Hanson for his question. It is a difficult question to answer. The government's position in relation to improved performance in the ED when it comes to timeliness and access is twofold. The first is to improve capacity. Right now we are expanding the capacity of the ED by 30 per cent in terms of the number of treatment spaces that will be available. That is going to significantly improve the capacity of the ED to see more people in a timely way. The second change is in relation to workloads within the ED. I have worked closely with my director-general in ensuring that we have undertaken a comprehensive review of performance inside the ED. We have identified where there are areas for improvement in terms of workflow management, and we are currently implementing a very proactive and assertive agenda to see doctors, nurses and other clinicians working closely to improve access in the ED.

Mr Hanson: Madam Speaker, a point of order.

MADAM SPEAKER: Can you sit down, please, Mr Corbell. There is a point of order.

Mr Hanson: The minister is explaining what is going to happen from here on. My question is specifically about why it has got so bad, why it has got worse over the past 10 years whilst hospitals across the rest of the country have got better despite the fact that we have less demand than the rest of the country. I am looking for an explanation as to why we have gone backwards over the last decade under this government, not what this government is planning to do right now.

MADAM SPEAKER: Stop the clock, please. Under standing order 118(a), I uphold the point of order and ask the minister to be directly relevant to Mr Hanson's question, which related to why, over the past 10 years, the performance has gone down, essentially.

MR CORBELL: As I said at the beginning of my answer, it is a very difficult question to answer. Madam Speaker, the workflows in the ED have to be a priority for us, and that is what we are focused on addressing. It comes down to how well work is managed inside the ED. That is why we are undertaking a comprehensive reform


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