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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 02 Hansard (Tuesday, 9 February 2021) . . Page.. 308 ..

MRS JONES: Minister, given that you are already walking back your commitment, is this an early admission that you do not expect to be able to achieve it?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I reject the premise of the question.

Hospitals—emergency department performance

MRS JONES: Madam Speaker, my question is to the Minister for Health. I refer to the latest Report on Government Services, showing that the ACT had the worst performing emergency department in Australia by the statistics. In your response to the media you said:

It is something that we talk about every single week at my catch-up with Canberra Health Services.

Minister, apart from talking about it every single week, what are you and your government doing to fix the worst emergency department results in the country?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Mrs Jones for her question. I do note, and I have said before, that our emergency department outcomes and timeliness are not where we want them to be. But I also note, for the record, that interjurisdictional comparisons are not really an apples-to-apples comparison when you compare the whole of the ACT to other jurisdictions around the country.

I have already talked in my previous answers about a number of the things that we are doing to address this. One thing that I have not had an opportunity to speak about is what we do at the front end to try to ensure that people who do not need to be at the emergency department are not presenting to the emergency department.

That includes our incredibly popular and successful nurse-led walk-in centres, which are able to treat minor injuries and illnesses closer to home for people, with our really excellent advanced practice nurses and nurse practitioners providing that treatment to people. We have a commitment now to expanding the Weston Creek walk-in centre with a new imaging service that has been announced and will be included in the budget that is being brought down today. That will enable people to get those imaging services outside of the hospital as well.

It also includes the Geriatric Rapid Acute Care Evaluation service, or GRACE, which is run out of Calvary Public Hospital but is now covering all residential aged-care facilities across the city and is working with Canberra Hospital now as well. The trial of that program saw a reduction, if memory serves correctly, in the number of people coming into hospital through the emergency department of about 25 per cent of residential aged-care residents. It is better for them and better for the hospital system if they do not have to come to hospital unnecessarily because they can be treated at home. They are just a couple of examples of the things that we are doing.

MRS JONES: Minister, given the history of these statistics and what has not been achieved by your government, what will be different from now on that will actually achieve an outcome in the statistical profile that we have?

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