Page 3946 - Week 12 - Tuesday, 29 November 2022

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With the delivery of the First 1,000 Days Strategy the government has set an ambitious platform of action for the future in the ACT that we believe is critical for the future of our children. This strategy works in conjunction with and as part of a broader strategic direction, outlined through, among others, our preventive health plan, Healthy Canberra; the early childhood strategy for the ACT, Set up for Success, which Minister Berry leads; and our strategy to strengthen families and keep children and young people safe, Next Steps for Our Kids.

Key to this strategic direction is the ACT government’s comprehensive 10-year Maternity in Focus public maternity system plan that I announced in June of this year. As Dr Paterson knows, we on this side of the chamber are proud of our dedicated public maternity workforce and the over 5,300 babies that are delivered every single year in the public system, which is why we are continuing to invest to ensure that they have the support and the systems they need into the future.

I am pleased to advise the Assembly that the government have got on with delivering our ambitious first four-year action plan. We have established critical oversight mechanisms, working across our public maternity system to commence work on nation-leading minimum maternity nurse and midwife to patient ratios, progressing the implementation of the Safer Baby Bundle through the office of the chief nursing and midwifery officer, to name just a few critical steps for the future of our system.

This work is just a snapshot of what is being undertaken to create a foundation to evolve our public maternity system and deliver the best for Canberra’s future.

DR PATERSON: Minister, how has the ACT government supported comprehensive, person-centred maternity care, with increased capacity across the public system, and what future plans are there to continue this work?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Dr Paterson again for her question. This reflects not just an interest in our long-term plan to transform our maternity system but how we are supporting our workforce now with increased capacity across the system. Through the 2021-22 ACT budget the government made a significant investment to deliver two intensive care cots in the neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU, at Centenary Hospital for Women and Children. This $15.3 million investment was to support the most vulnerable and unwell babies in our region with additional capacity. This year, in support of Maternity in Focus, I announced a $12.1 million package as a down payment on the implementation of the first action plan. This included two major investments to boost our frontline maternity system now, first by increasing the number of special care nursery cots at Calvary Public Hospital Bruce from eight to 11, reducing pressure across the system for those babies who need a little more special care.

Excitingly for those on the north side of the lake, the government has also invested in establishing a new gestational diabetes mellitus service at Calvary Public Hospital Bruce. This new service will open in 2023 and will provide for more births at Calvary Public Hospital Bruce every year. Importantly, it will provide an option for pregnant Canberrans north of the lake who have diabetes, rather than having to travel to Centenary Hospital for Women and Children. This means better care, closer to home, leaving more time to focus on the exciting life changes ahead.

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