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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 6 Hansard (21 May) . . Page.. 1533 ..

Hospital Bed Numbers

MR WOOD: Mr Speaker, my question is directed to the Minister for Health, who should spend less time organising dorothy dixers - - -

MR SPEAKER: Order! How about asking your question, and then she can see whether she can answer it?

MR WOOD: She should spend more time on important issues. Chief Minister, is it true that this morning coronary care patients were waiting in the accident and emergency department because the beds in the coronary care unit were all full?

MRS CARNELL: I will take the detail of the question on notice, Mr Speaker, but I think it is really important to alert this Assembly to a certain level of hypocrisy that exists.

Mr Berry: Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. The Minister either takes it on notice or she does not take it on notice.

MRS CARNELL: Okay. I am very happy not to take it on notice.

Mr Berry: Give us an answer. We will pursue you on an answer.

MR SPEAKER: Order! The Minister has been asked a question and she is answering it.

Mr Wood: She took it on notice.

MRS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, I said that I will provide details later, but I will go on and answer the question. This morning those opposite said, "Shock, horror! You have treated too many patients". They said, "Shame on you" because I had allowed the system to treat more patients, I did not close hospital beds and we spent too much money. They said, "Shock, horror! Is it not dreadful? The nasty Government did not close hospital beds as the previous Government did".

Ms McRae: I did not say that.

MRS CARNELL: That is exactly what you said. That is exactly what those opposite were saying - that, when it appeared that our hospital was going to treat more patients than we had anticipated or planned, I, very nasty me, did not close hospital beds and stop that happening. In fact, Mr Speaker, there are currently 591 beds at Woden Valley. When we took over, there were 584, I seem to remember. It means, quite definitely, that we have opened more public hospital beds. Yes, hospitals do get full from time to time. There is no doubt about that.

I am very happy to provide information on the status of the hospital at the moment. This year we have treated an extra 1,000 patients. As I said, we have made some increase in the number of hospital beds. We have decreased waiting lists by nearly 350. I do not think that is too bad an exercise at all. One of the most important things that came out of the Booz Allen inquiry was a suggestion that one of the best ways we could

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