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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 3 Hansard (23 March) . . Page.. 684 ..

MS CARNELL (continuing):

overnight. We were offering chemotherapy and other forms of ongoing drug therapy at home via drips; in other words, getting nurses to go out to people's homes and put up drips at home. The reason for that is that it decreases the chances of hospital-based infection, decreases disruption to family life and, of course, improves health outcomes. I would say that any government that has not taken that approach would not be doing the right thing by the patients.

Similarly, as I think Mr Moore said in his answer when asked to guarantee that we would never change hospital bed numbers again, we would not be doing the right thing by the patients as well if we did not change the whole way in which we operate. The direction that everyone is taking is of ensuring that people's treatment is conducted outside institutional care wherever possible, simply because the outcomes are so much better. So the changes will continue to be to more outreach services, more home-based services generally, simply because the outcomes are better. We increased our bed utilisation rate significantly during that period and are seeing a record number of patients. That, surely, has to be a great outcome, Mr Speaker.

MR MOORE: Just before I respond to a question asked by Mr Quinlan on 10 March 1999, I wish to clarify some points that the Chief Minister has elaborated on about an answer that I gave. Overall, the ACT public hospitals achieved 29,068 cost-weighted separations for the year to 31 December 1998. We use cost-weighted separations because it is better than saying that we did all the easy operations. Cost-weighted separations take into account the fact that some operations are more complex than others. In the year to 31 December 1997, 27,327 cost-weighted separations were achieved, so there was an increase of 1,741. Even though we have been prepared on occasions to close beds for particular purposes, we are doing what I said - we are increasing throughput.

Something else of interest, Mr Stanhope, is that when you asked your question I believe that you asked whether the number of public hospital beds had decreased from 591 to 542, being a decrease of 49. You may have been speaking specifically about the Canberra Hospital, but the figure that I have as of March is that we have 524 beds in the Canberra Hospital and 162 beds in the Calvary Public Hospital, meaning 686 public beds. Of course, when we look at the issue of public beds we have to be very careful about how we get those numbers because sometimes we have some open during the week and not open at the weekends and so on.

We probably have to put more effort into looking at the way we handle beds within our public hospitals to make sure that we are, for example, staffing beds that are being used at any given time rather than staffing X beds at any given time. That certainly is an issue that Mr Rayment is looking into in terms of long-term issues in re-engineering.

Hepatitis C

MR MOORE: On 10 March 1999 Mr Quinlan asked the Acting Minister for Health and Community Care about the hepatitis C program. He asked how many people have been in contact with it, how many have been infected, and what compensation arrangements

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