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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 6 Hansard (16 May) . . Page.. 1721 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

the Canberra Hospital that I want it to be proactive in its advice to the community about pressures being faced by the hospital. That is why you now see the Canberra Hospital issuing press releases when it does have difficulties in accident and emergency, and elsewhere at the hospital. It seems to me quite sensible that the hospital should advise-

Mr Smyth: What, to say, that if you are sick, do not come to accident and emergency?

MR STANHOPE: Absolutely, because that is what happened. What happened on this occasion was that there was some significant pressure at the Canberra Hospital. Twenty-eight beds are currently occupied by nursing-home-type patients. In addition to that, as a result of work being undertaken in one ward at the hospital and the absence of a number of doctors, there was significant pressure being experience at accident and emergency.

As a result of that, the head of the hospital did what I had asked. He issued a press release advising that there were pressures at Canberra Hospital, and suggesting that one way of alleviating those pressures was for people whose cases were not emergencies to go to their GP, utilise Health First or utilise Calvary Hospital. As a result of this advice, there was a downturn in presentations at Canberra Hospital and significant pressure was relieved. In addition, Canberra Hospital took a number of other steps, and has advised today that accident and emergency is effectively back to normal.

There are a couple of interesting aspects to the issues facing the hospital at the moment that members may be interested in. Activity across the hospital is up by 1.2 per cent this month, compared to this month last year. Occupied bed days for nursing-home-type patients in the hospital increased by 123 per cent over the year to March and, as I indicated, a ward was closed.

What the hospital did to respond to the pressure in accident and emergency was make available an additional 10 bed days, defer six elective surgery matters and, as I said, through its announcement, ask people to utilise either GPs, Health First or Calvary during the course of these next few days, if they could. It is pleasing that, despite the pressures, elective surgery was not delayed for any category one patients. All elective surgery for those patients was completed. As I say, the pressures are dissipating and the hospital expects to be back to normal in the next couple of days.

The issue raised by Mr McGowan, and also grappled with by Mr Smyth, is that of a step-down or convalescence facility. The government is committed to a convalescence or step-down facility. Mr Smyth keeps referring to budget provision made by the previous government for a step-down facility. Let me just say this once more. I have said it many times, but I will repeat it, so we get the record straight on this: this government is determined to provide step-down or convalescence facilities for the people of the ACT as a means of continuing to relieve pressure on accident and emergency in public hospitals.

To do that, we must determine which facility is appropriate. We must also commit money, on a recurrent basis, to staff that facility. Two sorts of money are required: we need some capital and we need some recurrent funds. In the previous budget, the previous government actually allocated some capital and allocated some recurrent funds, then Mr Moore spent the recurrent funds at Morling Lodge. He spent $261,000 of the recurrent funds. He spent-

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