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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 11 Hansard (Tuesday, 9 November 2021) . . Page.. 3127 ..


providing adequate additional medical and nursing staff to provide clinical oversight, including the introduction of a medical navigator; and the development of an acute medical unit, which allows patients with multiple medical issues to be admitted faster to an in-patient area from the ED, and have their care plans commenced by a multi-disciplinary team.

That is, of course, in addition to the establishment of an entire, new 10-bed mental health ward—ward 12B—which is now open. That will help to improve the capacity to admit mental health patients into the hospital in a more timely way. We know that, not just in the ACT but across the country, the increase presentations of mental health patients, and the increased complexity and acuity of patients presenting to ED generally, has been a challenge. I would encourage the opposition to listen to—(Time expired.)

MR HANSON: Minister, can you assure Canberrans that we will not again be at the bottom of the national performance ladder on almost every performance measure by this time next year?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: One of the things that is frustrating, Mr Hanson—through you, Madam Speaker—is the constant talking-down of the ACT health system by the opposition, never ever mentioning anything that we do well or where we do better than the national average. I would encourage the opposition to listen to Professor Abhayaratna’s full interview on ABC radio—

Mrs Jones: I have a point of order with respect to relevance. The question was about this time next year. The Minister has gone to describe in great detail the very learned Professor Abhayaratna, but we want to know whether we will still be at the bottom this time next year.

MADAM SPEAKER: I am going to rule that the minister is in order in answering the question and point to the fact that Mrs Jones jumped to her feet after less than 30 seconds of the answer.

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I had not even got to my point about Professor Abhayaratna. The point is that he was very clear in his interview on ABC radio about this report around the complexity of the issues that are facing the ACT and the things that are resulting in, for example, additional presentations to the emergency department. He was very clear about the fact that the commonwealth government really needs to step up in support for primary care and general practice in the ACT, where we have the lowest proportion of GPS per head of population and the lowest rate of bulk billing. Therefore we are seeing people attend the emergency department who would and could be treated in primary care. It was Professor Abhayaratna, not me saying that. And the AMA is supporting the calls from all states and territory health ministers for the commonwealth to contribute 50 per cent of funding for our hospitals, instead of the 45 per cent of growth that they currently contribute.

MR CAIN: I have a supplementary question. Minister, as the person ultimately responsible for governing the ACT health system, and without deflecting to the


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