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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 6 Hansard (7 June) . . Page.. 1882..


MR SMYTH (continuing):

Let's look at the month that has just gone, May. The government will try to change the situation by use the new term "load sharing"like it is some sort of agreement and we are all getting on. The problem with load sharing is that it does not address the fundamental problem that when you cannot get into the hospital, when you are sent on bypass, you are not getting the service that you deserve.

May 2006 was a watershed month for this government because in that month the hospital recorded a total of 36 hours of bypass. I understand from sources that there were 17 separate occasions of bypass, that is, almost two-thirds of the number of days in the month. That is just not acceptable. After another round of reform-we had reform in August 2004 under Mr Wood, we had a couple more under Mr Corbell, and then we had the AIP last year and put in more money-let's compare May this year to May last year, because they are the most recent statistics we have access to.

The result for May 2005 was quite different, with on occasion bypass for a total of 10 hours and there were only four occasions of bypass for the whole month. There was a new program to fix the bypass situation, more money was thrown at the problem, and what is happening? It is getting worse because the ethos is not changing. We are not supporting the nurses, the doctors and the allied health workers and making sure that they have a system and the tools that they need, beds, to do their job properly. Let's take a look at the figures again. In May 2006, there were 17 separate occasions and 36 hours of bypass. In May 2005, there were 10 hours of bypass on four separate occasions. That is appalling. That, minister, is an indictment of the hospital system that you run.

Let's go for a longer period. Let's look at the five months from January to May this year and compare them with the performance last year. The record for the five months from January to May 2006 is most revealing. The analysis of bypass shows that so far for this year there has been a total of 74 hours of bypass, whereas between January and May last year there was only a total of 44 hours of bypass, almost a 100 per cent increase. More money, more reform, more bypass. The government has got it wrong. Who pays? The ordinary individual looking for care and the workers in the system who are getting more and more stressed and leaving the system in droves.

The performance of the ACT emergency department already in 2006 means that we are looking at potentially a very poor outcome for this financial year. Indeed, I am told that the performance for just the first few days of June shows that the problem appears to be continuing. June has hardly started and already there have been nine hours of bypass on four different occasions-four days out of six when I had this data given to me, two-thirds. That is in stark contrast with June 2005. Remember, there have been nine hours already in just four or five days, whereas there was a total of 12 hours of bypass for the whole month of June last year. So the portents for the balance of 2006 with respect to occasions of bypass do not look good at all.

It is the responsibility of the Stanhope government and the new health minister to take appropriate action to correct the situation that, unfortunately, the minister inherited from the Chief Minister and Mr Corbell, who could not get out of health fast enough. What you have inherited from two failed health ministers, you are now going to have to fix and improve the performance of the emergency department at the ACT public hospital system. We have had this debate before. I remember that when the access improvement


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