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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 6 Hansard (7 June) . . Page.. 1881..

Public hospitals-performance

MR SMYTH: (Brindabella) (5.42): I move:

That this Assembly:

(1) notes that, despite the dedication and hard work of our nurses, doctors and allied health workers in the public hospital system:

(a) the recent report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that the ACT rated very poorly across a range of health indications;

(b) the rate of by-pass occasions at The Canberra Hospital has increased substantially during May 2006; and

(c) the elective surgery waiting lists show continuing increases in people waiting for surgery; and

(2) calls on the ACT Government to take urgent action to improve the performance of the ACT's public hospitals.

Mr Speaker, I will start where Mr Gentleman closed the last debate by seeking some clarification from the minister about the veiled threat that Mr Gentleman just delivered to Calvary over what the government seeks to define in its roles. I thought Calvary had a lease re-signed by Mr Corbell some two or three years ago, which would mean that it has something like 95 or 96 years to run on its lease. I think that finishing a debate with veiled threats to the most productive part of the health system is most unnecessary.

I want people to note that the motion commences with the words "despite the dedication and hard work of our nurses, doctors and allied health workers in the public health system". I start by praising those who work in a system that does not work for them. Reform after reform, report after report, and change after change have been foisted upon our nurses, our doctors and our allied health workers in a hospital system where the senior executives of the hospital sent a memo out saying not to take tea breaks and to come back early from meal breaks because the system does not work. That is the state of the public hospital system, that is what our staff are putting up with, and that is what no amount of money will fix-the attitude of the government. If the government thinks that it can continue to get away with it by just throwing money and rolling out new programs, it is wrong.

Much was made in the last debate about the access improvement program of $1.2 million put in place last year. What has been the result of having the access improvement program and how has it affected hospital bypass? Let us look at the status of the ACT emergency departments and the number of occasions when they, except for emergency patients, do not accept new patients. The recent record of occasions of bypass at our public hospital system can only be described as pathetic for a major regional hospital. In fact, the most recent statistics for the Canberra Hospital are downright disturbing.

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