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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 12 Hansard (23 November) . . Page.. 3854..


Questions without notice

Hospitals—overcrowding

MR STEFANIAK: My question is to the Minister for Health. Minister, earlier this week you informed the ACT community that "we've"—that is, ACT Health—"actually purchased 10 beds from the National Capital Private Hospital to deal with some of the pressure"at the Canberra Hospital. Minister, are you aware that, in purchasing these beds from the National Capital Private Hospital, patients who use the private hospital are being denied access to beds in that hospital? What was the basis of the arrangement made by ACT Health to purchase those beds from the National Capital Private Hospital?

MS GALLAGHER: As members would be aware, in this year's budget we had $12 million for an additional 20 beds. In order to get those beds up and running in Canberra Hospital there needs to be some planning and some capital works redesign done. So those beds will not be operational until early next year. In the meantime we are in a position where we are able to increase the capacity for beds in the public hospital system with the agreement of national capital private.

I doubt very much that what you say is true—that people are being denied access to National Capital Private Hospital—unless you are receiving information that I have not received. It is not a decision that national capital private would necessarily take if they were full with their own patients. They entered into an agreement with the Canberra Hospital for a six-month period for us to use 10 of their beds.

That increases the capacity at the hospital in line with some of the arguments that the opposition has been running that we need to increase capacity in the hospital. I thought you would welcome the initiative by the government to make sure that the beds that we funded in this year's budget are operational as quickly as possible.

There has been pressure for inpatient beds. We need to respond to that pressure. As I have said many times in this place, through our current term and by early next year we will have 126 extra beds in place—75 of which are now operational—to deal with the growth that we are seeing.

The opposition are always saying, "100 acute-care beds must be operational now", except they have no plans for where those beds would go or how they would staff them. There is no solution there. We are doing it in a very planned way. We now have 20 medical beds—12 at Calvary and eight at TCH—in place from the 2005-06 budget. We now have three intensive-care beds in place and 60 sub-acute beds—51 are extra; nine are already in place. They will be operational early next year.

We now have an extra 17 emergency department short-stay beds in place at TCH and Calvary, and 15 transitional aged-care beds jointly funded by the ACT and commonwealth governments have been in place since June 2006 run by the aged care sector. In this year's budget, we also have funding for an additional 20 beds, 10 of which are now in place. We are responding to the growth that we seeing in demand for hospital beds. This government is taking a very sensible approach and ensuring that we are planning where those beds need to go.


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