Page 1766 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 4 May 2005

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record spend are designed to tackle the key issues of concern to the Canberra community, including issues such as elective surgery waiting times and emergency department access block.

Two million dollars has been allocated in the budget to increase elective surgery capacity. Apparently, that is $2 million too much, according to Mr Mulcahy. That would leave another $98 million to go. This funding is designed to overhaul not only the waiting times and to improve waiting times but also to overhaul the management of surgery at the Canberra Hospital in particular. So we will be undertaking a business review process at the Canberra Hospital to improve the way the whole system works in terms of throughput as well as improving access to elective surgery.

This will provide an additional 300 cost-weighted separations for elective surgery in 2005-06, rising to an additional 402 in 2006-07—300 extra cases of elective surgery that Mr Mulcahy thinks we should not be paying for. That is what the Liberal Party is saying. They are saying that we are spending too much on health; and not just a little bit—$100 million too much on health.

Members interjecting—

MR SPEAKER: Order! There is far too much noise in the chamber. Mr Corbell, direct your comments through the chair. The opposition will cease interjecting. And so will Mr Hargreaves.

MR CORBELL: Thank you, Mr Speaker. The budget adds to the $20.4 million in additional funding for elective surgery already allocated by the Labor government since coming to office. Since coming to office, we have already allocated an additional $20.4 million to elective surgery, and this budget adds another $2 million. Apparently, that is just too much for Mr Mulcahy—too much money on elective surgery; too much money for Mr Smyth; too much money for the Liberal Party altogether.

In addition, as part of a portfolio-wide program to improve access to acute hospital services, the budget has allocated $2.3 million for an additional 20 beds in ACT hospitals—an important commitment, an election commitment of the government fulfilled in full. It is worth making the point that, again, Mr Mulcahy would seem to think that this is 20 beds too many because it is $2.3 million too much on health spending in the ACT. This extra bed capacity, though, would mean a better flow of patients from the time they enter ACT hospitals to the time they return home.

MS MacDONALD: I thank the minister for that answer, although it was a little bit interrupted. I am sure there were other things that were happening.

MR SPEAKER: Come to the question.

MS MacDONALD: Mr Speaker, my supplementary question is: how do other health initiatives funded in this year’s budget complement the key initiatives of elective surgery waiting lists and additional medical beds in ACT public hospitals?

MR CORBELL: I thank Ms MacDonald for the question because she is showing an important interest in how the overall system performs in ACT public hospitals.

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