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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 6 Hansard (13 June) . . Page.. 1599 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

the government has budgeted in 2001-02 for a rate of increase of only 800 to 1,000 separations?

MR MOORE: When we do our budget, we look at cost-weighted separations rather than straight separations, and that complicates issues. I think it is worth reminding members that in what has been budgeted this year there has been a 10.7 per cent increase, in the order of $20 million, on what was budgeted last year. One of the reasons we were able to gain that increase in funding for the hospital was the very good negotiations done by my department, particularly the head of my department, Dr Penny Gregory, with New South Wales with regard to cross-border funds. That gave us extra money which we have been able to inject into the hospital over the last year to try to meet some of the concerns.

Unfortunately, Mr Stanhope, the issue is much more complex than asking whether we are doing this number of separations. It is important to understand that there are pressures on the hospital, but we are also making significant achievements, particularly in the area that I know is of great concern-waiting lists and waiting times. I have emphasised again and again in this place that waiting times are the critical factor. If you look back over the last six months, you will see significant improvements in categories 1 and 2. It is quite some time since we have had any long waits or people who ought to have been dealt with in category 1 not being dealt with. In category 2 there has been a significant improvement. Of course, we are also beginning to see the impact on category 3 patients.

When I came into this place, I was concerned to make sure that we were able to deal with people in a timely fashion. That is the goal I am trying to ensure is carried through, and that is where we have been effective.

MR STANHOPE: I ask a supplementary question. I note that the minister for health suggests that there has been a 10.7 per cent increase from last year's budget to this year's budget. Does he concede that in fact the increase in funding from the anticipated end-of-year result to this budget is 11/2 per cent? In light of that, how does the minister propose to avoid next year the same sorts of pressures that are evident on services at Canberra Hospital this year-nurses on stress leave, patients waiting overnight on trolleys, elective surgery being put off until spring-if he will not adequately fund increased demand?

MR MOORE: There is a series of questions there that I will try to run through. I would like to deal with Emergency first. There is no doubt that there has been particular stress on Emergency. Part of the reason for that is the blocks in beds across the hospital. Instead of those being shared across the hospital system, they were held in Emergency, clearly causing significant stress to Emergency staff. I regret that I publicly said that it was a form of wildcat strike. I was wrong. I do not say that lightly or easily. These nurses were under significant pressure.

This is not just a matter of money, as indeed was the case only two or three years ago when there was constant pressure, as you may recall-

Mr Berry: Why do we have to put up with your apologies for your mistakes?

MR MOORE: Mr Speaker, it is very difficult when Mr Berry is interrupting. This is the Mr Berry who blew out the waiting list and was still trying to recover from it-

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