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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 01 Hansard (Wednesday, 14 February 2018) . . Page.. 169 ..

were raised in this city or whether they just moved here yesterday, all Canberrans will benefit from the investments we are making in their health.

With our growing population comes the need to strengthen our health system into the future. One of the best ways to ensure this is by supporting our highly appreciated medical practitioners. The latest figures from the Productivity Commission’s report on government services sees Canberra ahead of all states and territories, with the second highest rate of medical practitioner employment per 100,000 people. Consistently we have seen that our government is committed to introducing new opportunities for medical practitioners to exercise their much-valued skills here in the ACT. We also have a long-term plan to continue to address our medical workforce needs through a targeted workforce attraction strategy, especially for specialists.

We also want to see the general practitioners in our community have the opportunity of providing more affordable and accessible healthcare services to Canberrans. That is why our GP bulk-billing grants, which are now open, will help to deliver on the south side, an area where we know bulk-billing rates are low. The grants, of up to $350,000, will provide an incentive to general practitioners, psychologists and other allied health care professionals to increase their bulk-billing rates. Through these grants, we are recognising the important role of GPs and allied health professionals in the health system, and we are providing the support necessary to ensure that they can offer affordable health care on the south side.

Woden is home to our regional hospital and many health services. Our government is investing in the expansion of the hospital and modernisation of facilities with the new surgical procedures, interventional radiology and emergency centre, the SPIRE centre. This is a very significant investment in infrastructure in the Woden Valley. While the whole of Canberra benefits, those of us who live near the hospital on the south side have the convenience of being close to the major hospital in our region and the excellent services that it provides to our community, services and facilities that will expand under our government.

The new SPIRE centre will also significantly boost the number of operating theatres at the Canberra Hospital, with dedicated theatres available for elective surgery, more complex procedures, trauma and emergency surgery, and dedicated theatres for maternity, gynaecology and paediatric surgery, which will in turn support our hospital to manage increasing demand and support more surgeries. This will provide increased capacity and allow for better management of emergency and elective surgeries to avoid delays and rescheduling as our community continues to grow.

While we are meeting our targets for the number of elective surgery procedures performed each year as our region grows, there is pressure on our waiting times in the short term. That is why yesterday’s announcement that our government is investing $6.4 million to reduce elective surgery waiting lists is so welcome. We can expect an additional 600 patients to come off the waiting list by the end of this financial year across all categories of elective surgery.

Even without the SPIRE centre being built, the number of hospital beds has increased significantly across the territory. According to the ROGS data, between the

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