Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 05 Hansard (Tuesday, 8 May 2018) . . Page.. 1532 ..
As I said before, I never thought that we would actually be wanting Katy Gallagher to return to the health portfolio in the ACT, but at least she was competent and answered questions. That is much more than can be said about Minister Fitzharris.
It is a tragedy that we have to raise this no confidence motion today, but we owe it to the doctors, the nurses, the midwives, the other staff and the patients of Canberra to have a health service that is befitting of the national capital. For that reason, we call upon the government to get a health minister who is going to do a better job.
MR BARR (Kurrajong—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development and Minister for Tourism and Major Events) (10.57): Obviously, the government will not be supporting Mrs Dunne’s motion today. We support the work that Minister Fitzharris is undertaking to address the issues facing our growing health system and the growing health service needs in our community.
As our city grows, it is vital that our health system remains contemporary to meet the needs of our growing community. The health system, like every health system in this country, has faced recent challenges, including strong population growth, increased demand for health services, more people with chronic conditions and, of course, the experience felt by every state and territory in this country: the massive cut in federal funding delivered by the federal Liberal government in their budget of 2014.
Between the 2011 and 2016 census counts, the ACT’s population expanded by more than 11 per cent. This represented the fastest rate of growth in the country. We also have more New South Wales residents accessing our health services. For example, the number of patients presenting to the Canberra Hospital and health services emergency department increased from 77,747 in the 2015-16 fiscal year to 85,093 just one year later. That is a near 9½ per cent increase.
In a comprehensive response to this motion this morning, the health minister has acknowledged the recent governance challenges for ACT Health but, importantly, outlined a series of actions being taken by the government to address them.
Significantly, ACT Health will be separated into two organisations from 1 October 2018, focusing on the delivery of quality health services for our fast-growing community and focusing on strategic policy and planning stewardship of the health system. An interim director-general, Michael De’Ath, has been appointed. As the minister outlined, Mr De’Ath and Minister Fitzharris recently hosted a series of staff forums to explain this action, to work with staff, and to provide opportunity for detailed discussion and questions. ACT Health is currently focused on the reaccreditation process for Canberra Hospital.
Perhaps instead of criticising the work of Health staff in the directorate and across the hospital service, who we know come to work every day to do an outstanding job to provide care and support to vulnerable Canberrans needing to access health services, those opposite could focus on the proactive steps that ACT Health are taking to ensure that accreditation is achieved.