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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 10 Hansard (Friday, 8 October 2021) . . Page.. 2999 ..


The other point of clarification I make for Mrs Jones is that we did have a plan to look at increasing the number of people who spent four hours or less in the emergency department, and that plan has been partially implemented. We realised that plan needed some additional funding, and that is funded in the budget—all of those additional funding measures that we have put in the budget around increasing staff in the emergency department, introduction a medical navigating position in the emergency department, introducing an acute medical unit, is a pathway for people, and Mrs Jones is welcome to a full briefing on that if she is interested.

The other clarification I give to Mrs Jones is that the budget is data up until 30 June, so there is really no point in saying you have not met what you are supposed to be doing in October and looking at data as of 30 June.

MRS JONES: Minister, given the Chief Minister has made it clear how much he values human life, how many people have had severe health outcomes as a result of not being seen on time in the emergency department, like the suicidal girl I saw earlier this year who gave up on seeking help after having spent over four hours at Calvary and then a further10 hours at TCH?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: Obviously we all hear very disturbing stories from our constituents and people who contact us around their experiences in the emergency department, particularly people with mental health challenges. It is often difficult for them to be admitted in the timely way when our mental health capacity is strained, as it has been this year and we know that it has been. So I am very sorry to hear about that experience.

We are always very supportive of following up individual experiences if they are referred to us. But it is one of the specific challenges we face in the emergency department around ensuring that people with mental health challenges can be admitted on time. And that is exactly why we have invested through this budget in a new acute mental health ward in 12B, which is now open and up and running.

MR HANSON: Minister, have you achieved your promised NEAT target of four hours in ED, which you promised nine months ago? If not, will you now apologise for breaking your promise?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: Again, for the clarification for Mr Hanson, I indicated to the journalist that we had a plan to achieve that. I also said it was a very ambitious target and it would be difficult, and I outlined to the journalist the many challenges that we would face. So then identifying this as a firm promise that was never, ever going to have any challenges associated with it is completely and utterly a misrepresentation.

Mr Hanson: On a point of order of relevance, Madam Speaker, the question is whether she broke her promise. It appears that she has clarified she made a promise to achieve these targets. Whether they are difficult or not is not the issue. The question is: did she achieve these targets—yes or no. If not, will she apologise.


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