Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (1 September) . . Page.. 1724 ..
MR QUINLAN (continuing):
I agree that the Government should try to get the best service for its dollar. However, under that umbrella I would like to be assured that we are not taking the focus completely to the dollar, that we are still looking at the service level, the degree of compassion, the degree of capacity, the degree of reliance and the relationship that the clients have built with the service provider that brings them closer to being one of the family, when they have got over that long period of becoming uncomfortable with some very personal intervention in their lives from time to time and when they were most vulnerable and dependent. I would like to be assured that we are not hell-bent on pursuing the purchaser-provider and the tender model down to the nth degree. I would like to go back to that 14 per cent and hope to God that that was an exaggerated figure when I last heard it about a year ago.
MR BERRY (10.54): The first thing I would like to say, arising from what I heard in the Estimates Committee and around the traps, is that what is now described as stabilised patient transfer, SPT - another acronym that we can add to the list - is an illness, I suppose, that seems to have developed to an accepted stage in our public hospital system, and I find that unacceptable. I do not think that we have ever experienced this sort of problem to the level that I have heard it talked about recently. That is not to say it has never happened and it is not to say that it cannot happen, but - - -
Mr Moore: Do you want me to get comparative figures from when you were Minister?
MR BERRY: You can if you like. If you can find any reliable figures in the system from those days, best of luck. I have never questioned that some of the figures have improved but, in my experience, these sorts of things have never occurred to the extent that they are occurring now. What annoys me mostly is that there is this broadening attempt to make it acceptable for these things to occur. However, that is just a comment.
Since Mr Moore has taken over the health portfolio, I do not see there is much different an emphasis on the way the hospital system is heading. I have just had some discussions with Mr Stanhope and we agree that there is an irrevocable push towards a two-tier system which is consistent with the Liberals' philosophical position on health. It seems that all that we are hearing in defence of the new private hospital on the site are the same sorts of echoes of people defending the decision to put it there in the first place.
I would like to see more commitment to the public system. Knowing, as I do, that the intensive care ward is the bottleneck which is creating many of the problems within our public hospital system, and knowing that the private hospital will be recruiting intensive care nurses for its own intensive care unit, it seems to me that we are being drawn into a sort of vortex of the two-tier system which, as I said, is consistent with the Liberals' philosophy on the public hospital system but is quite foreign to me. That having been said, it is up to the Labor Party to keep highlighting - and I know Mr Stanhope will keep highlighting it - the difficulties within our hospital system and urging Mr Moore to take a different direction.
There is just one remaining matter I would like to talk about and that is the salary increases to the salaried medical officers. The Estimates Committee asked the Government to justify its position and the Government has set out a justification on the matter. It has said, in essence, that all of this is justified. I am not in a position