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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 02 Hansard (Thursday, 6 March 2008) . . Page.. 622 ..

improving. They just want to talk the health system down, talk the public health system down, like they do on a daily basis.

The Canberra Hospital has established a department of ophthalmology which expands on the range of ophthalmology services provided in the territory’s public health system and increases access to this type of elective surgery. Ophthalmology activity in the ACT for both the public and private sectors grew by approximately 5.5 per cent between 2004-05 and 2005-06. This new initiative, which will cost $1.9 million over four years, will provide a public ophthalmology outpatient service and will provide a retinal surgery service for adults and neonates.

Currently, and in the past, patients requiring retinal surgery travel to Sydney. This enhanced service will enable retinal surgery to be provided in Canberra. In addition to this service, we will establish an ophthalmology registrar program to sustain the overall ophthalmology service coverage in the ACT and create a structure for attracting and developing locally trained ophthalmologists. In this way, the ACT is continuing to do all it can to address the skills shortage problems nationally and internationally in regard to health and allied health professionals. Registrar programs, coupled with investment and partnerships with local universities, the ANU Medical School and scholarship and professional development initiatives, provide safeguards for the future skill needs of the ACT health system.

The ophthalmology service will provide a robust after-hours emergency ophthalmology service, cover the current gaps in the service by establishing a public ophthalmology outpatient service, and will provide, as I said, a retinal surgery service for adults and neonates. TCH commenced theatre lists of ophthalmology on 26 February 2008. Outpatient departments have been running since 7 January 2008. Services will be further expanded with the appointment of a second registrar, who is currently in the process of recruitment.

This is a great outcome for the ACT. It should be welcomed by those opposite but the constant interjections over there are talking down the health system—on an announcement that is so positive.

Opposition members interjecting—

MS GALLAGHER: If you put the politics aside, it is positive for the people of the ACT, for the community that need this type of service. Instead of going to Sydney, we can provide this service here. It should be welcomed by this Assembly. Every Assembly member should put their politics aside and say: “Well done, government. Well done for getting this service here. Well done for funding this service, and isn’t it good for the rest of the ACT?” But they cannot see beyond their short-term political gain. They have to snipe at and talk down the public health system—at a time when our public health system is moving ahead and achieving more than it has ever achieved in the past.

Emergency Services Agency—management

MR PRATT: My question is to the minister for emergency services, Mr Corbell. Minister, at the last volunteer brigade captains meeting the captains passed a motion

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