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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 12 Hansard (Wednesday, 21 November 2007) . . Page.. 3656 ..

The ACT government has invested heavily to provide better health services for our community. Since 2002-03, the government has allocated approximately $134 million on budget initiatives which directly impact on our emergency departments and greater access to inpatient beds. This has included funding for up to an additional 147 beds. That is new beds—not the closure of 114, as those opposite carried out when they were in government. This mix of beds includes an additional 60 acute beds, four more intensive-care beds, 51 beds for sub-acute service and 17 beds in two observation wards next to our emergency departments. These have been opened to increase capacity and address pressures in the system.

On top of this, the Stanhope government has funded 15 intermittent care beds in the community. These extra beds deliver improved clinical treatment options in care environments not previously available in the ACT. The new 14-bed MAPU, or medical assessment and planning unit, which was opened earlier this year and the 17 emergency department observation beds which were funded in the 2004-05 budget focus directly on the immediate bed requirements for the emergency departments.

But our investment has not been restricted to the here and now. We have also invested in the future—in particular, in the future of our workforce. It was this ACT government that built the $13 million ANU Medical School. It is the ACT government that provides an additional $3.5 million every year to provide advanced skills training for our doctors. The ACT will be an exporter of junior doctors. But it is not just doctors that we are investing in. The government is committed to ensuring that we repay the commitment and professionalism of ACT Health’s workforce in delivering high-quality health services.

The Stanhope government has reduced the separation rate for nurses from 14.5 per cent in 2000 and 2001, when we first came into government, to just 7.7 per cent in 2006-07. This is an achievement to be proud of. This government has also developed initiatives to promote and support the recruitment and retention of nurses and midwives and invested resources in attracting and keeping our nursing staff. This includes providing structured support for newly qualified enrolled nurses as they move from study to the workplace. There are now also increased opportunities to identify and implement learning and development strategies and increase the quality of care in the clinical setting.

The Stanhope government also continues to invest in our staff over time by offering refresher and re-entry programs for registered nurses who have been out of the workforce for some time and wish to update their knowledge base in order to return to work as a nurse or midwife. And of course we actively support the nursing studies area at the University of Canberra.

These significant investments have resulted in accessible, timely and quality healthcare services. In 2006 the ACT Health corporate office, Community Health, Mental Health and the Canberra Hospital were each awarded full accreditation by the Australian Council on Healthcare Standards for the maximum period. Furthermore, ACT Health as an organisation is moving to a single, portfolio-wide accreditation process in the coming years.

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