Page 3270 - Week 11 - Tuesday, 13 November 2007

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Mr Corbell: So just to clarify, then, your ruling, Madam Temporary Deputy Speaker, will this mean that the opposition will not be able, in debating this MPI, to draw attention to internal governance and management practices and procedures of the public hospital system?

MADAM TEMPORARY DEPUTY SPEAKER: What I am saying, Mr Corbell, is that the matter of public importance will go ahead—

Mr Corbell: I understand that.

MADAM TEMPORARY DEPUTY SPEAKER: with the proviso of the general caveat that there should not be general canvassing of matters that it is anticipated will be debated tomorrow. Further to the point of order, Mr Stefaniak’s motion is quite specific in relation to the setting up of an inquiry which—

Mr Corbell: Yes, which deals with a range of matters.

MADAM TEMPORARY DEPUTY SPEAKER: Do not interrupt me, Mr Corbell. Mr Stefaniak’s motion is in relation to the establishment of an inquiry under the Inquiries Act. There will almost certainly be some reference tomorrow to matters in relation to the administration of the hospital, but that does not preclude this matter of public importance this afternoon.

MRS BURKE (Molonglo) (3.50): As I have mentioned in this chamber before, the strain on our health services and economic and social pressures are compelling reasons for hospitals to consider an independent local board structure in an effort to position hospitals to meet changing demands. A hospital board structure, one that is a hybrid clinical, philanthropic, community and corporate model, will provide expertise in governance, finance and the delivery of improved health services. In developing a new independent local board structure, consideration should be given to identifying the skills and processes required to undertake board business.

The public hospital system in the ACT desperately needs intense scrutiny and evaluation, not only to correct the many inefficiencies which are coming to light and which adversely affect patient wellbeing but also to ensure that the taxpayers of the ACT receive value for money, and that the dedicated staff who are working there are given every support possible. Despite this ongoing dedication and commitment by the ACT’s nurses, doctors and allied health workers, our public hospitals are performing poorly against a range of major health indicators. Elective surgery lists continue to be higher than acceptable, with Canberrans waiting one month longer on average than the national median waiting time for elective surgery.

At the heart of all of the issues arising in our public hospitals is the management of public hospitals. The management of the ACT public hospital system needs a stronger focus on community and clinicians, who can then be more closely involved. I put it to the Assembly that perhaps this is at the heart of why the Stanhope government is so very reluctant to adopt a model that removes power and control from their grasp.

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