Page 1520 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 7 May 2008

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system here. At the same time it is not just about new buildings; it is about changing the way we work and changing the way we work outside our hospitals, better linking in our community health facilities, better working with our non-government organisations that provide a lot of support to the health system. It is about looking at our workforce and changing and reconfiguring the workforce to create the staff that we are going to need in the future.

Importantly, this work has provided us with information and data that will not change depending on a change of government or depending on whatever happens in October. The data is there; the reality is there. We have what I think is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to prepare our public health system for the future. I think it is up to our opponents to accept the reality of the world in which we live and to offer bipartisan support for a plan which will benefit not only this generation but future generations of our community. It is important that we rise to the challenge. We have an opportunity here that other jurisdictions have missed in previous years. They are facing those challenges earlier than us.

These announcements need to be welcomed. I think the opposition needs to accept the reality, endorse this plan and offer the community bipartisan support on a way forward to completely redevelop and reconfigure our public health system.

MR ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Mr Gentleman): A supplementary question from Ms MacDonald.

MS MacDONALD: Thank you, Mr Assistant Speaker. Minister, what is the time frame for the government’s response to this upcoming need?

MS GALLAGHER: Thank you, Mr Assistant Speaker. In respect of the expected time frame to deliver this major reconfiguration—it is not just about buildings; it is about the way we work and how we work—we believe that we need to have the majority of this in place over the next eight years, with the program finalised in 10 years. That gives us enough capacity, and just enough capacity to have the system working as we need it to work by the time all of the baby boomers reach the hospital and need that special care. When the knees give out, when the hips give out en masse, we need to have the facilities in order to deal with that.

It is about buildings. It is about more operating theatres and more beds. It is about a specialised women’s and children’s hospital. It is about getting our mental health precinct up and running. It is about providing new services. It is about providing a state-of-the-art neurosurgery capacity. Already we have one of the best neurosurgeons in the country working in the ACT. They are getting referrals from across the country to come to the ACT for treatment and we need to support that type of excellence in our system.

At the same time we need to look at our community health facilities. The only solution to some of these issues is going to be keeping people out of hospital. Part of the challenge is to make sure our community health centres offer the services they need. Importantly, for people that cannot afford private health services and even the services of general practitioners, it is about making sure the public health system is

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