Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 3 Hansard (28 March) . . Page.. 806 ..
MRS CARNELL (continuing):
It is not as if the money has not been spent, but we will certainly make sure that mental health continues to be a priority. It is an area in which, if anything, we underspend. That is one of the reasons why we have to change the way that we operate in the rest of the hospital. We have this stupid situation where we spend 30 per cent more than we should on an average patient in our hospital and do not spend enough on mental health. I do not think that is acceptable, and that is the reason why we adopted the Booz Allen approach. It is the reason why we are looking for changes to rosters approaches; it is the reason why we are looking for a number of other approaches. Mental health is a priority for this Government.
MR BERRY: My question is directed to the Chief Minister in her capacity as Minister for Health and Community Care. The budget contained spending on health that was to be earmarked for improvements such as a cardio-thoracic surgery unit, and increased activity was to be funded by savings of almost $3m. In the budget speech you said that these contracts would deliver savings of close to $3m a year. Does the failure to achieve those savings mean that projects such as the cardio-thoracic surgery unit will not go ahead as promised?
MRS CARNELL: I am fascinated by Mr Berry. Mr Berry just named two things, the cardio-thoracic unit and increased throughput. I spent quite a long time this morning explaining to this house that the increased throughput is almost better than we had expected it to be and that the reality is that we did not do what the previous Government did. What they did - it is in their policy - was directly fund things like increased throughput by savings from VMOs, shall we say. We did put an extra $2m in the budget for extra throughput. We have actually spent more than that on increased - - -
Mr Berry: On a point of order, Mr Speaker - - -
MRS CARNELL: That was exactly what you asked about.
Mr Berry: My question was: Does the failure to achieve the VMO savings mean that projects such as the cardio-thoracic surgery unit will not go ahead as promised? That was my question.
MRS CARNELL: That is right. The other project that you mentioned was increased throughput. Do you want to read the question all the way through again?
Mr Berry: No.
MR SPEAKER: The Minister for Health is coming to it.