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The evaluation of the homecall program has demonstrated the potential for productivity increases and possibilities for further expansion of early discharge programs. The program is currently funded until June 1995. Under this Government it will have a high priority in future years. I consider that homecall will build upon the success of the midcall program - the early discharge program for mothers and babies in the ACT.
The Council of Australian Governments, in its recently released paper “Meeting People's Needs Better”, highlighted that improved service coordination and continuity of care should be national goals. The ACT Government is committed to ensuring continuity of care for patients. However, we will have to ensure that appropriate discharge planning mechanisms and support services are in place for each and every patient. We are also seeking ways of involving other professionals and general practitioners in this type of program, wherever it is possible. It is not our intention to promote shorter length of hospital stay without ensuring that home-based services are better resourced to enable such policies to be supported. This Government’s support of the homecall program will be part of our commitment to ensuring that full resources are provided to support clients on early discharge. I commend the homecall program to the Assembly as an example of an initiative that is worthy of all our support. I present a copy of this statement, and I move:
That the Assembly takes note of the paper.
MR CONNOLLY (3.20): Mr Speaker, whenever the Government finds itself short of business and wants to come into this place and make a ministerial statement extolling the virtues of Labor Government health programs, we are happy to give it the time, and that is what Mrs Carnell has just done. I must say that I was looking forward to some new announcement - that perhaps Mrs Carnell, after all the rhetoric of three years, would actually get around to saying something about what she is going to do to solve what are given and accepted as some very long-term problems in the ACT health system.
There are three former Health Ministers in this chamber, and we all know that it is not an easy area. We had been rather looking forward to something new being said. I had heard, as one does hear in the winds, that something was going to be announced about the hospital-in-the-home program. I was wondering what this initiative would be. I must say, somewhat cynically, that I wondered whether Mrs Carnell would say, “There are 100,000 homes or thereabouts in the ACT; so, we have 100,000 beds. We have suddenly created 100,000 beds in seven weeks in government. There are about 4,500 people on the waiting list, but we have 100,000 beds; so, we have in fact reduced the waiting list from plus 4,500 to minus 95,500”. Perhaps that is just a little bit of cynicism creeping in there. I must say that I am disappointed - not that Mrs Carnell did not announce that every home is a hospital, therefore we have 100,000 beds - that there was nothing new in this statement.
This statement is an appropriate recognition of a very good program, a program whose genesis dates back to 1989, when the first Labor Government came in and the midcall program was established. From chatting with Mr Berry a few minutes ago, I would say that it was a bit risky at the time; it was a bit novel; and people were a bit