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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 11 Hansard (Tuesday, 9 November 2021) . . Page.. 3130 ..

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: The government is well aware that the impact of COVID-19 on our public hospitals will be long-lasting. That is why last year we took a comprehensive plan to the election that detailed our vision for the future of our public health and hospital system. The 2021-22 budget delivers on our commitments and ensures that our public hospital system will continue to deliver excellent care for Canberrans when and where they need it.

We have focused investment on expanding critical public hospital services with a $128 million boost over the forward estimates. This funding includes $39 million to increase emergency surgery capacity and post-surgery care, to support growing demand, as well as investments to help reach our commitment of 60,000 elective surgeries in the coming four years—building, of course, on last year’s record of more than 15,000 elective surgeries conducted, despite continuing to support the COVID response.

Our plan also continues our investment in our two emergency departments, as I have just been talking about. With the expansion of Calvary Public Hospital Bruce’s emergency department completed last year, we have provided almost $16 million in increased funding both to deliver 24/7 medical imaging and in response to growing demand for hospital services on the north side.

The government has also continued work to improve the ability of Canberra Hospital’s emergency department to respond to increasing demand. As I said this budget includes $23 million to expand treatment spaces in the emergency medical unit, increase staffing and develop an acute medical unit. This significant investment continues our support for our fantastic clinicians and emergency department staff, as they continue to improve their models of care and deliver on the timely care strategy across the hospital.

We have also recognised the increased mental health demands that we are seeing in the community, with more than $50 million invested in critical mental health services over the next four years.

DR PATERSON: Minister, can you please outline the bipartisan request from all state and territory health ministers to the commonwealth to better support hospital funding and fix their chronic underinvestment in aged care, the national disability scheme and primary care?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Dr Paterson for the question. She is right; all states and territories, Labor and Liberal, have written to the health minister, Greg Hunt, to ask the federal government to pay the full cost of the care of National Disability Insurance Scheme and aged-care participants who are waiting unnecessarily in our hospitals. This is not a partisan issue at a state or territory level. Liberal and Labor state and territory governments are in lockstep on this. The federal Liberal-National government needs to step up and take immediate action to reduce the impact that long-stay patients are having on the health system and, most importantly, to fund more appropriate accommodation for these individuals.

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