Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 2 Hansard (7 March) . . Page.. 362..
MR CORBELL: It is a hypothetical question, Mr Speaker.
MRS DUNNE: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Minister for Health. Minister, last Friday you launched the ACT health access improvement program which, by my count, is your third attempt since August 2004 to address access block at the hospitals. In this third attempt at addressing a problem that, according to the Medical Journal of Australia, costs 13 lives a year, you offered ingenious advice through media release. It says:
Now comes the really hard part-taking up those opportunities-
I am not quite sure what they are-
-and putting in place solutions.
Minister, after two years, three attempts and upwards of 26 deaths, you have finally got to the stage of putting solutions in place. How many more patients will need to die before you actually fix access block in the hospitals?
MR CORBELL: That is an outrageous allegation. I would ask Mrs Dunne to withdraw the allegation that I am somehow responsible for 27 additional deaths in the public hospital system. It is an outrageous allegation and she should withdraw it.
MR SPEAKER: I will have a look at the Hansard. I think you should deal with the question, Mr Corbell.
MR CORBELL: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Contrary to Mrs Dunne's assertion, this is not the third attempt; it is part of a package of measures the government has put in place to address access block problems at our public hospitals. Really interesting about the assertions made by those opposite as their solution to access block is the simplistic and constant mantra we hear from the Leader of the Opposition which is, "A hundred more beds; a hundred more beds!"
I do not know whether Mr Smyth read the Australian Journal of Medicine, but if he did, he would have seen that the experts say there that extra beds are not the solution. What happens when you have extra beds on their own is that the beds just fill up and then you are back to square one. That is what those who have investigated this issue are saying. All Mr Smyth talks about on this issue is an extra 100 beds. Mr Smyth, go and read the Australian Journal of Medicine and see what the experts say. They say that the solution is not necessarily extra beds. In fact, they say that just supplying extra beds is not going to fix the problem. You know what happens: the beds fill up and then you are back to square one.
In contrast to the simplistic and opportunistic approach from those opposite, this government takes a comprehensive approach. It is about increasing capacity-and we are increasing capacity significantly. I will have more to say on that during the MPI later today. But we are also focusing on improved management and improved patient flows. That is what the access improvement program is about. Mrs Dunne and Mr Smyth should