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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 5 Hansard (1 May) . . Page.. 1293 ..

Questions without notice

Canberra Hospital

MR STANHOPE: My question is to the minister for health and community care. Can the minister confirm that the Canberra Hospital has exceeded its contract with the government to provide health care services? Can he confirm that the hospital has provided more services than it was contracted, and paid, to provide? If so, what is the amount involved, and what steps have been taken to fund it?

MR MOORE: Mr Speaker, I will take the details of Mr Stanhope's question on notice and make sure I respond in an appropriate way. Yes, the hospital has exceeded the amount of work that it has been contracted to do. The method of dealing with that is a matter of negotiation between the purchaser, the department, and the hospital. Through that purchase agreement, we resolve the issue as to what it is that they have been expected to do and where they have gone overboard. The access for funds for that is through the cross-border funding.

MR STANHOPE: I thank the minister for his answer and for his undertaking to provide further detail. In the event that the Canberra Hospital or any other provider of health services has exceeded its contract for the provision of services, is it expected to close its doors when it has reached the extent of its contract, or to simply control demand, so to speak? What is the rationale behind a contract to provide health services that imposes such an arbitrary limit on the quantum of those services?

MR MOORE: There are tools that a hospital has to maintain its throughput to deal with demand in some areas and to be able to trade off for another. The purchase agreement is an agreement between the hospital as to what it believes is possible and between the department of health as to what it believes is appropriate in health care delivery services. We know that in some areas we have had an increase in demand. For example, renal and emergency are areas that have gone over. It is possible for the hospital to deal with that by reducing elective surgery. That, of course, increases the waiting lists. That does not suit my agenda and it does not suit the agenda of the department. Therefore, we look at other ways to resolve those issues. There is a contract in the initial instance, and then amendments to that contract through a process of negotiation.


MRS BURKE: My question also is to the minister for health, Mr Moore. Minister, there have been reports that you have made changes to Healthpact in the last few weeks. Will these changes undermine the independence of the Healthpact board, and will they undermine health promotion across the ACT?

MR MOORE: Thank you for your question. There have been some administrative changes made to Healthpact but not to the board. As members would be aware, the Health Promotion Board was established under legislation. The only way to change that or to have an impact on the way Healthpact and the board operate is by coming into this house and changing the legislation. The government has no intention of doing that.

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