Page 1048 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 16 March 2005

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of growth, and in the way in which the nature of the delivery of medicine has changed, the minister’s response to these issues has been nothing less than remarkable.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (11.23): From the speeches today, it is clear that our health system is of grave concern to both Liberal and Labor members of this house. It is also of great importance to the Greens. I am yet to be convinced as to how a censure motion will improve our health system. In my opinion, such a motion should not be moved lightly or used to score political points. However, I do believe that we should be discussing hospitals and other health issues in the Assembly, but let us try to be constructive.

As the ACT Greens member of this Legislative Assembly I support the Greens’ policy, which takes a holistic approach to health. We see health as more than rates of surgery—however they are measured. There are significant issues in our health system and there is much scope for improvement. However, citing these figures really does not give us an idea of whether or not our health system is meeting the needs of our community. Nor do they really give an indication about how the minister is managing the health portfolio. These statistics do not give us any idea of the health of our community. For example, are we having more or less surgical mistakes? How do we measure quality in our services?

These statistics focus on acute health, which is mostly the back end of the system. Of course, we need a responsive acute health component of our health system but most of these statistics relate to elective surgery. The question then needs to be asked: what is included in the category of elective surgery? Are some procedures that are deemed elective really procedures that should be carried out but can be delayed and are therefore called elective? This is information that we do not get from these statistics. This then could be used to make the case that the situation is even worse, but does that then make it the fault of the health minister? That case is certainly not made in this motion that is before us.

These statistics are not multi-dimensional. They do not take into account safety and quality, as I have said. They do not take into account the work force available to undertake the procedures. They do not take into account the interaction with the private health sector and whether this sector is doing less surgery or whether it is doing simpler surgery. The Greens advocate the need for a health system that focuses on health and wholeness rather than disease or injury management alone. We have a holistic approach to health, as our policy states:

1. all people in the ACT should have access to services which will enable them to fulfil their individual potential for mental, social and physical well-being;

2. individual and community health is based on many factors, including a safe, clean environment, adequate income, food and housing, physical activity and a balanced life;

3. government should provide the conditions for a healthy community along with equitable access to a complete range of health services.

It must be admitted that some of the problems facing the ACT health system are due to factors that are out of the control of any ACT health minister, but this does not relieve the government of the responsibility to provide a quality health system. We do however have to take into account the role of the Australian government. It has, through the rebate for private health insurance, transferred precious money and resources from the public system to the private system. We need to remember that this impacts on the resources

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