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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 11 Hansard (Tuesday, 19 October 2010) . . Page.. 4597 ..

aim—that is, to take complex patients out of the emergency department. These are the types of patients who have spent long periods in the emergency department while specialists consider treatment and assessment options prior to admission to the appropriate ward. This gets around the situation for patients who have multiple doctors considering their care taking that time to decide which particular ward they should be admitted to and they can be admitted to this new surgical assessment and planning unit. The idea is that it will cater for adults, that they may remain in the unit for up to 48 hours, and that they have a surgical condition. However, the intervention required is not clear, or the speciality required is not clear.

I went and met with the staff, and indeed some of the patients, in the SAPU the other day. It is a fabulous new building. It is the ward that was vandalised by an individual just prior to its opening, but it has opened on budget and on time. All the beds are operational. I think that the feedback that I got from the patients who had already been admitted to the SAPU was very positive.

This past three weeks also saw the launch of the public diagnostic breast imaging service and the digitalisation of BreastScreen ACT, which, again, were commitments we made in the lead-up to the election. So for the first time women in the ACT now have a public service where they can go and get their regular X-ray assessments with mammography and ultrasound assessments if they are referred by a medical practitioner. In the past women had to face going to the private system. It is not a service that we offered publicly. I think that probably the most major benefit is that women who found those costs prohibitive are now able to access a public system with state-of-the-art technology.

In BreastScreen ACT there has been a move to digital technology from analog technology. Women undergoing breast screening will now have their images relayed in real-time—whether it be to specialists here or interstate—to have those films reviewed. In the past we had to courier films to Sydney. There could have been a three to five-day turnaround to get opinions and then get them back to the Canberra breast screening service. Those images, which are of much higher quality, can now be turned around in one day.

I am also told, although I have not experienced it myself, that the machines used in the new system are much more comfortable for women. I hope that means that women who have not taken part in the breast screening program will get that extra incentive to go along and have a mammography. Again, I just issue a reminder that the target age group for that is women between the age of 50 and 69.

MS PORTER: A supplementary.

MR SPEAKER: Yes, Ms Porter.

MS PORTER: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Minister, how does the delivery of these commitments contribute to the government’s overall strategy to rebuild the ACT health system so that it can be ready for the growing health needs of our community now and into the future?

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