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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 9 Hansard (26 August) . . Page.. 3163..


MR CORBELL (continuing):

Members will be aware that, at the moment, our supply is coming from the Googong catchment and that continuing assessment is made of that catchment, the water from which does receive a higher level of treatment than water from the Cotter catchment. There is ongoing assessment of the water quality in the Cotter catchment. That is a process that has been undertaken jointly by the Health Protection Service, Actew and ActewAGL, and their relevant contractors.

I will take the question on notice and clarify the situation for Mr Smyth, but I do have to raise a concern that Mr Smyth is suggesting that there might be a problem without substantiating it. It is quite a serious issue and if Mr Smyth is aware of a concern, I would certainly appreciate his raising it with me so that I can investigate it. I will take the question on notice and provide further information to him.

Hospital beds

MRS DUNNE: Mr Speaker, my question is also to the Minister for Health, Mr Corbell. Minister, in relation to the discussion paper "Towards the Canberra Spatial Plan", which is a lovely mauve, which you released today, it is reported in the Canberra Times and elsewhere that you cannot expect any new hospitals or hospital beds in the next 30 years and that it is estimated that the current number of hospital beds contained within the current hospitals will be sufficient to meet predicted needs.

Minister, why are you predicting that the ACT will not need additional hospital beds, given that the population will grow substantially in that time, that the demand for health care will grow significantly and that the aged profile of the community will increase significantly?

MR CORBELL: The point that that document was trying to make, Mr Speaker, was that, based on existing projections and, indeed, even on a wrapped-up projection of the amount of population growth in the ACT, it would be unlikely that a city of our size would require a third tertiary hospital, given both its cost and the level of investment, therefore, required of the community. But the system has capacity, in terms of the number of beds, to respond. I think the point the document was trying to make was that we could, in fact, have additional beds within the existing infrastructure.

Mr Speaker, it is worth making the point that the capacity for treatment is much more focused now on providing as much care as possible in the home or the community environment and not in the acute care environment. Indeed, all the trends in health care are to shift care out of the acute environment because, the irony is, the longer you stay in hospital, the more difficult it is for you to get well, generally speaking; and the shorter your stay in a hospital, the better your health outcomes are. That is essentially where the evidence points and that has led, over the past 10 years, to the increased use of day surgery, where people don't stay overnight but simply have surgery during the day and return to their home and has led to a focus on expenditure in the community setting and in the home setting.

Whilst our hospitals do have capacity for additional beds, the issue really is whether or not we need to build a new facility. Certainly, based on current projections and,


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