Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 7 Hansard (19 October) . . Page.. 1868 ..
MRS CARNELL: In the last five, six, seven years, Mr Connolly, it has happened all the time. What we have seen is a situation where we have allowed people, via our contract situation, to end up on longer and longer waiting lists and we have not addressed them via the purchaser-provider model, which means to tell the providers of service such as our hospital exactly what we expect for our taxpayer dollar. So there are areas such as that, Mr Moore, where it has worked very efficiently. There are other areas where I believe that the commercial model has gone far too far, and we will not be embracing those sorts of reforms.
MR MOORE: I ask a supplementary question, Mr Speaker. The Chief Minister mentioned in conclusion that there are other areas where the commercial model has gone far too far. You have been to New Zealand and you have looked at other areas. I notice that one area this speaker talked about as going far too far was bureaucratic expansion. The promise was just the opposite, but in fact in New Zealand there was a bureaucratic expansion. What have you done to ensure that you do not make the same mistakes as New Zealand? They started with exactly the same plan as you and believed that they were going to have a reduction in bureaucratic managers, or health managers. In fact, this speaker says in his paper:
New Zealand's so-called health reforms have proved to be a bonanza for health managers.
MRS CARNELL: I cannot make a comment about at what level health management is in New Zealand, although, as I said earlier, I think New Zealand has gone far too far in the commercial model for health. In some areas - again I will use public health as a good example - they have actually set up bureaucracies to artificially produce a purchaser and a provider. That has produced bureaucracy that I do not believe needs to exist. What we have done in ACT Health, via the Booz Allen approach, is come up with a model that, I believe, much better reflects the needs of the ACT, which is for a much smaller bureaucracy, with no unnecessary purchaser units where there is simply no obvious purchaser or provider, and a much smaller administration for our general health area. In fact, a reduction of some 20 per cent is what we are projecting in administration costs.
MR HIRD: My question is also to the Chief Minister in her capacity as Minister for Health and Community Care. The Minister stated earlier this year that she was taking action to address a critical shortage of operating theatre nurses at the Woden Valley Hospital. What progress has the Government made in tackling this problem?
MRS CARNELL: I have certainly not made any secret of the fact that the operating theatres at Woden Valley Hospital have been under an enormous amount of pressure over recent months - not from one, not from two, but from three hammer blows. The first is an Australia-wide shortage of experienced theatre nurses. The second has been an abnormally high level of sick leave amongst theatre staff during the winter months.