Page 2225 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 3 August 2022

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We know that COVID-19 has been incredibly hard. It has been hard on our community and it has been really hard on our health workforce. It has been hard on our nurses and midwives. Health care is hard work, as you would be very well aware, Madam Speaker. What our nurses and midwives do every day is not something that everyone could do. I have heard that loud and clear during these past 2½ years, and I heard that before the pandemic. I have spoken a number of times in the last week about looking back on the 2019 influenza season, the bushfires and the smoke, leading into the pandemic. It has been an incredibly tough three years and more.

I have heard how difficult it has been to work in personal protective equipment throughout shifts, particularly the PPE required when caring for COVID-19-positive patients. I have heard how distressing it is to work in areas that are short-staffed because colleagues are unable to come to work due to COVID-19 or influenza. All of this pressure makes going to work each day even harder.

Staff are being asked to do more, while our health services leaders have also worked hard to put as much support around them as possible—lots of planning, lots of communication—and, ultimately, they are in a very difficult circumstance that is shared across health systems right across this country, and indeed in other countries.

I am absolutely aware of what is happening. I have been speaking to many staff in the health workforce, to professional associations and of course to unions about what we can do to support the health workforce further. I have been very clear with the leaders of our public health services that workforce wellbeing, safety and planning must be the priority. That is why, building on the work that has previously been undertaken in our health services, the system-wide draft ACT Health Workforce Strategy 2022-32 will be released for formal consultation with stakeholders next week.

Because this work is a priority, we have invested in the Health Workforce Strategy and plan through the 2022-23 ACT budget. The work behind the strategy has already included numerous preliminary discussions with a range of stakeholders through the first part of this year, including tertiary partners, unions and clinical stakeholders. This means that the strategy can be finalised by the end of the year, alongside development of the detailed workforce plan, through collaboration and consultation with our health system stakeholders and our union partners.

The ACT Health Workforce Strategy will set out the overarching priorities and strategies to build a sustainable and skilled health workforce for the ACT. It will outline the essential supports that are needed to guide workforce design and provide the structure to support and build the capacity and capability of our workforce, including leadership and culture. It will build on the work we have been doing to enhance leadership and management training, to make it clear that staff can speak up for safety, and to improve workforce culture.

We have received the draft of the accreditation report for Canberra Health Services, and we have been told that we are allowed to use this. I draw the Assembly’s attention to this assessment, which saw 11 assessors spend more than 400 hours across our service. They said that the assessment revealed a workforce culture that is closely aligned to the CHS vision, values, clinical governance framework and exceptional care framework.

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