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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 04 Hansard (Tuesday, 20 April 2021) . . Page.. 829 ..

health system. Our public hospitals are operating at full capacity, at times even overflowing, leaving patients in beds in hospital corridors—something I have witnessed with my own eyes.

Wait times for emergency department treatment and elective surgery are some of the longest in the country and have been for some years. As the Canberra Times noted just last week, ACT Health has, for years, returned disappointing report cards when it comes to wait times for people who present to the territory’s emergency departments. Not only are we failing to meet our current national targets but now there are moves afoot to change the targets to a more lenient and lower benchmark and then to measure the flow of patients being admitted into hospital.

For the record, I think it should be possible to report on the flow of patients being admitted into wards as well as maintaining our current standards and targets. No-one is served by benchmarks which have been nationally agreed upon or reported on for years being lowered so that failing jurisdictions like ours can look better without doing the necessary work to improve actual wait times.

Labor has known for over a decade that critical new hospital infrastructure is needed to keep up with both a fast-expanding city but also the need for more complex and more invasive treatments. This government has been talking about expanding the Canberra Hospital for well over a decade. In 2008 then health minister Katy Gallagher described an impending health tsunami. In 2010 the Labor-Greens government promised a major redevelopment of the Canberra Hospital. It was the biggest health commitment in the territory’s history, but it never eventuated. The government broke their promise and dumped plans shortly after the 2012 election.

By 2016, only after the Canberra Liberals made clear our commitment to redeveloping the Canberra Hospital, the government rushed through yet another hospital promise—the SPIRE Centre. SPIRE was promised to be open to patients in 2022 but has since been renamed and delayed to 2024 and possibly will not even be delivered by then.

This government has also promised an expansion of the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children—that is absolutely necessary because the hospital was built with no more beds than its predecessor building—and that the increase would be completed by 2021. That has now blown out to late 2023.

The budget does nothing to address the years of complacency and failure by the 20-year-old government. The budget does nothing to deliver the increase in critical health infrastructure that our growing city needs. Today Kate Gallagher’s predicted health tsunami has well and truly hit and yet this government has failed to deliver many of the health promises it claimed were and are critical to meet the needs of our growing city.

I note the health minister’s commitment in January to fix some hospital wait times within nine months, by the end of October 2021. Indeed, there are a number of waiting issues because of the stressors on the system. The ED waits are well known. If you turn up to ED as a category 1, the system works; it really does. Critical life and

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