Page 2275 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 3 August 2022

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Through this budget we are investing across the system to support the health workforce in delivering key initiatives such as the digital health record, to support their training. We are also modernising rostering systems at Canberra Health Services to support their experience.

DR PATERSON: Minister, how has the government delivered on its commitment to invest in an additional 400 health professionals in this parliamentary term?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: Thank you Madam Speaker, and I thank Dr Paterson for the supplementary. From the 2020-21 budget through to the 2022-23 budget, the ACT government will have permanently increased our workforce with a total of 266 more FTE nurses and midwives, 103 more allied health professionals and 31 more doctors. The total investment through the 2022-23 budget will see an additional 102 full-time equivalent permanent employees this year, growing to 170 FTE in 2023-24. These numbers will only continue to grow into the outyears to deliver well above our commitment from the last election.

Madam Speaker, this builds on our investments in the previous budget, including the 90 full-time equivalent nursing staff recruited to implement the first phase of ratios. They have all been recruited to our health services.

Our funding and our commitments have also included more emergency department staff, more neonatology staff, more ICU staff, and many others. This builds, Madam Speaker, on a ten per cent increase in our full-time equivalent staffing for Canberra Health Services over three years for 2021-22, including an almost 14 per cent increase in nursing and midwifery full-time equivalent staffing, with a head count increase of more than 14 per cent over that three year period. This reflects that we have been able to recruit new staff.

Through the 2022-23 budget, as I said Madam Speaker, more than $16 million will go towards recruiting new allied health staff, meaning a further 42 full-time equivalent allied health professionals will be funded. This represents one of the largest investments in allied health in Canberra Health Services history. This substantial investment will increase access to specialised assessment and treatment at Canberra Hospital and Centenary Hospital; more physiotherapists, occupational therapists, social workers, psychologists, speech pathologists, exercise physiologists, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander liaison officers and dieticians.

MR PETTERSSON: Thank you Madam Speaker. Minister, how will these investments address health workforce planning and wellbeing?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: Thank you Madam Speaker. Over the short term, allied health will increase its capacity to provide services seven days a week and increase the number of therapy sessions. This will support more rapid improvements in patient health and discharges on weekends.

There are more nurse practitioners coming onboard; more midwifes and nurses through our investment in expanded services. More health professionals to support recovery and exceptional care and care closer to home.

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