Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2019 Week 07 Hansard (Tuesday, 30 July 2019) . . Page.. 2406 ..
situations to try to reduce the number of people who are in emergency experiencing an acute mental health condition.
MR WALL: Minister, on average in 2018-19, how much time did patients presenting with a serious mental health illness spend in either emergency departments or general wards before being admitted into appropriate mental healthcare locations?
MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I will take that question on notice.
MRS DUNNE: Minister, what is your plan to accelerate actions identified in this area of the risk register?
MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Mrs Dunne for the supplementary. As I have said, this is an area of high priority for Canberra Health Services. It is an area where, of course, the mental health portfolio and the broader health portfolio have to work very closely together to ensure that people who are presenting with mental health challenges are getting the support they need, where they need it. I will take this on notice, providing if I can, some further information to Mrs Dunne in terms of more detailed time frames than may have been available previously.
MRS DUNNE: My question is to the Minister for Health. What is your plan to turn around the failures of successive Labor health ministers over the past 18 years in emergency department waiting times, long elective surgery waiting lists, gaps in specialist services, overcrowding in emergency and maternity departments, ageing infrastructure and equipment, a toxic workplace culture, and delays and poor planning processes for new infrastructure?
MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I am not sure that Mrs Dunne could possibly expect me to respond to that question in two minutes to outline all of the significant investments the ACT government is making across the Canberra Hospital, the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children, the Calvary Public Hospital Bruce and other areas of the health system to address the multiple matters that Mrs Dunne has raised. We know that there is always more to do in any health system. There is not a health system in the country or probably around the world that does not face challenges around emergency department waiting times and elective surgery waiting lists, and this is why the timely care strategy is a top priority for the CEO of Canberra Health Services.
The timely care strategy is a multifaceted strategy that is about reducing demand, diverting patients to the most appropriate service, maximising capacity and improving patient flows. I note also that there are significant investments that the ACT government is making to support that. For example, the 2019-20 budget builds on the previous initiatives around emergency services and care with an additional two senior staff specialists to be recruited to Canberra Hospital ED to respond to increasing demand, building on the increase to ED staff delivered through the 2018-19 budget, which has grown front-line resourcing by 14 staff.