Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 02 Hansard (Wednesday, 24 February 2010) . . Page.. 597 ..
Every year we have invested in beds, because you cannot increase your elective surgery program unless you are increasing your bed capacity in the hospital, unless you are increasing your workforce, unless you are increasing your intensive care capacity. We are building an intensive care unit at Calvary hospital just so that we can provide that level of support.
It is so simple for those opposite just to present one set of data and not see it in the complete picture of the health system. The elective surgery program is interrelated with a whole range of other factors at the Canberra Hospital and at Calvary hospital, and it does take time. It has taken, I think from the last data that I saw, eight years to replace the beds that you took out.
MR SPEAKER: Mr Hanson, a supplementary?
MR HANSON: Yes, Mr Speaker. Minister, if our health system is so efficient, why is it that our health costs are the second highest per capita in the country and are increasing at 11.1 per cent, which is the highest rate in the country?
MS GALLAGHER: It does give us the opportunity to reflect on the costs that were being run at the time that we took over. I can see from comparing the ROGS data that in 2002-03 it was 30 per cent higher than the national average. Thirty per cent is what this community was paying for the same level of cost that it is now. Our hospitals are busier than ever before; we have got more people working in our public health system delivering more services. We could not afford to do it at 130 per cent of the national cost. It is incredibly important for the sustainability of the health system that we bring our costs down. We have been doing that whilst we have been increasing services at the same time.
Mr Hanson: Point of order, Mr Speaker: I did ask the minister to address why our current health costs are increasing at 11.1 per cent, which is the highest rate in the country right now. I ask her to turn to that point of relevance.
MR SPEAKER: Minister, the question.
MS GALLAGHER: Because we are investing in the health system. I do not think anyone in the community is sad about that. We are investing in the health system. We are building new buildings; we are building a new hospital. We are delivering more services; we have opened more units. We have got services being offered across our hospitals that have never been offered in this town before. People had to go interstate and leave their families for treatment; we are changing that. We are reforming and revolutionising the health system, and it costs money.
There are areas we could improve. We could improve emergency department waiting times. They have improved every quarter for the last two quarters, and I imagine that we are going to see continued improvement in that area. We are doing new models of care, changing the way we are doing things: employing nurse practitioners, employing more doctors in new fields and new specialties, working with research institutions—partnerships with the ANU. This health system is undergoing immense change. On reflection—(Time expired.)