Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 02 Hansard (Wednesday, 5 March 2008) . . Page.. 491 ..
children and our young people, because that is where it is important to identify health issues early so that they can either be addressed or the proper treatment given so that problems are not exacerbated over time.
We have heard that there are massive changes afoot in health. On 10 February the health minister was quoted as saying that Calvary Hospital’s facilities would be enhanced and Canberra Hospital would be given a major redevelopment under the long-term plan. I think we need to see this long-term plan. The long-term plan needs to be opened to public scrutiny at an earlier rather than later stage when it is fully complete and handed to us as a polished item. It is very difficult for consultation to occur in those circumstances. People are vitally interested in health, and there will be useful things to say about it out in the community. It may result in efficiencies, and it is well worth while with such an important investment that affects the whole community.
I would be interested in hearing from Ms Gallagher as to when she does plan to release her health plan. If we are asking for time lines, we need to know exactly what is the aim of the health plan and what it is expected to achieve. I am also interested in, instead of just talking about large hospitals getting larger, looking at different ways and more flexible ways we can deliver the pointy end of services. There is plenty of evidence around that shows that smaller, specialised hospitals or health services can work better. We certainly know that a major strep outbreak in a large hospital is more of a problem than it is in a smaller hospital. We are looking at the development of bacteria and viruses that are much more resistant to any approach that we might take. Therefore I think we need to get smart about these things. I support the motion; I call for more information about the ACT Government’s health plan, and let us see some more effort put at the local level and into primary health care services.
MS MacDONALD (Brindabella) (11.35): I will also address both the motion and the amendment in the same speech. Before I go into my speech, however, I will address a couple of points that were raised by both Mrs Burke and Dr Foskey in their speeches. Mrs Burke was saying that we had not put in money for the plan, but I understand that we have put in $1.2 million in the second appropriation for planning the CADP. Dr Foskey was making comments about problems with getting to see a GP and the fact that you need to have somebody who provides that continuity of care for your general health, and I do not disagree with those comments. But I would point out that this is a federal matter, and even though it is a federal matter, this government has certainly been doing all that it can to actually deal with the issue. I know that I have had conversations with friends and they have trouble getting into GPs as GPs have closed off their books.
We have actually put funds in through the division of general practitioners to undertake marketing work to attract GPs to Canberra. I also understand that the health minister has regularly written to the federal government requesting that all of the ACT be declared a workforce shortage area for general practitioners, and we will continue to do those things. Hopefully, the situation will now change and there will be some recognition that there is a problem. Previously there was no recognition by the former federal government that there was a problem within the ACT. I am sure that all of us can recite experiences of speaking to people that we know who are within the ACT