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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 6 Hansard (7 June) . . Page.. 1878..


MS GALLAGHER (continuing):

ourselves the challenge of bringing it to within 10 per cent of that, still 10 per cent higher than the national average.

We have a job to do in health. I am not saying that it is going to be easy. It is going to be difficult. The demand for services is increasing all the time. As our community ages, that demand is going to grow. We need to have a real plan about how we manage that growth. We are doing that in this year's budget. We are allocating money where Mr Smyth is arguing for money-I am sure he welcomes all that-in terms of elective surgery and in terms of more beds, with 20 new medical beds and more beds in critical care, high dependency and intensive care. Those are in addition to the beds that were provided in last year's budget and the beds that have been provided through the subacute facility and short-stay beds in the emergency department. Seventeen short-stay beds are now in place and operating in the emergency department.

MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella) (5.28), in reply: I thank Ms Gallagher and the Stanhope Labor government for their foresight in providing this extra funding for the ACT's health system. I would like to concentrate on the actions which we are taking now and will be taking in the future that both Ms Gallagher and I have addressed tonight.

My colleague the former Minister for Health outlined 12 months ago in the context of the 2005-06 budget the Stanhope government's approach to improving performance in the health system, with a simple, clear objective of providing timely access to care based on need. The government has consistently backed up this strategy since it was elected in 2004 and has invested in previous and present budgets.

Not only have we outlined and funded a long-term program of improving and reforming our health system to improve performance but also we have been up-front with the ACT community about our performance. From the commencement of the 2005-06 year, we introduced the ACT public health services performance report. This quarterly report is the most comprehensive and detailed public report on health system performance in Australia. This is about being clear about priorities, open about our performance and accountable for our achievement and underachievements.

Let's reflect on our actions and our planned actions. Mr Smyth likes to talk about beds. Specifically, he wanted 100 more beds. I would like to look at other important issues as well, but I will start with beds. What are we doing about building up bed capacity? How many beds have been introduced by this government in the current term and are to be commissioned by December 2006? Twenty medical beds, 12 at Calvary and eight at TCH in place now, from the 2005-06 budget; three intensive care beds are in place now at TCH from the 2004-05 budget; sixty subacute beds, 51 extra and nine existing, with 10 in place in February 2006 and the balance by December this year; 17 emergency department short-stay beds are in place now at the TCH and Calvary out of the 2004-05 budget; and 15 transitional aged care beds, jointly funded by the ACT and commonwealth governments, were put in place in June 2006 and will be run by the aged care sector.

That comes to a total of 106 extra beds by December 2006, of which 50 are now in place. Of course, that was before the 2006 budget, which commits funding for up to an additional 20 acute beds. That amounts to total government funding commitments for extra beds of 126, with 50 in place now and the rest to follow progressively in the


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