Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 01 Hansard (Wednesday, 14 February 2018) . . Page.. 175 ..
The minister has also advised that the present cost for nurse-led walk-in centres is $188 per presentation, compared to $37 for a bulk-billing GP. Do not shake your head, minister. If it is wrong you have misled the Assembly, because you gave that information in an answer to a question on notice. It has been pointed out that that number has come down from, I think, $196 to $188, but it is not much of an improvement. And if you challenge the $188 figure, you need to come in here and correct the record, because if you challenge that figure you have misled the Assembly. So you had better be very careful about what you say about those figures.
The government has spent millions, and will spend millions more, on the nurse-led walk-in centres despite the fact that there is no evidence that they have a positive impact on emergency department waiting times. In short, the government has tripled the amount it spends on health, and the minister is very proud of that and makes no apology for that, but the money is not being spent efficiently or effectively. The community is not getting better services, as shown by the key performance measures and indicators such as elective surgery waiting times and by the things that they do not report on.
I will give you one example, very close to home. I got a phone call the other day from my son, who said, “I just got a phone call from the hospital. They want me to come in for a gastroenterology appointment.” This was the week before last. He remembered that in November 2016, so 15 months ago, at a clinic he was advised that he needed to see a gastroenterologist because he had now moved from a paediatric clinic to an adult clinic and he had better see an adult gastroenterologist. The lady on the phone told him, “It is a long time, and you will get in to see someone in April, but our priority is really for category 1 patients and you’re not a category 1 patient; you’re a category 2 patient. But because you’ve been waiting so long we thought we’d better prioritise you as well.” My son had no idea what this woman was talking about but he faithfully reported it to his mother, who happens to be the shadow minister for health. So we know why there are problems in the gastroenterology waiting list, why there are 300 people, 75 per cent of whom are waiting more than optimal times to see a doctor.
MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong) (3.57): I am pleased to speak on the importance of a comprehensive health system that provides care for everyone in our community where and when they need it. Of course, it is important that we invest in our hospital facilities so they can meet the needs of our growing population, and Ms Cheyne’s motion provides an extensive outline of the significant funding the government is providing in this area. We see this commitment through the expansion of the Canberra Hospital emergency department, the establishment of Canberra’s first rehabilitation hospital, investment in the SPIRE centre, and the expansion of the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children.
As our city continues to grow we need to invest in acute services to respond to increasing demand. As Minister for Mental Health, I note we have also made investments in acute mental health services, including the opening of the Dhulwa mental health unit, and a commitment to establish an acute in-patient mental health unit for children and adolescents as part of the Centenary hospital expansion.