Page 2394 - Week 06 - Friday, 27 June 2008

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Over the last three years, the number of elective surgery patients who have had their surgery postponed has decreased considerably, from 14.6 percent in 2003-04 to 8.7 percent for the first ten months of 2007-08. This is a direct result of the additional $33 million added to the ACT Health budget to increase access to elective surgery over the four years to 2007-08. The additional $12 m added for additional elective surgery over the next four years will further assist in reducing the level of hospital initiated postponement of elective surgery.

(2) The Government has already provided considerable increases in funding for health services for older Canberrans. In 2005-06, the Government established the Aged Care and Rehabilitation Service to provide for a better focus on the public health needs of the older members of the community. This was the first time that an ACT Government had established such a clear focus for the delivery of holistic health services to this population. This new service has provided better services to older people across the continuum of care as well as providing an entity to focus solely on the strategic direction for services for older people.

In addition to the consolidation of services to older people within a single organisational framework, the Government has also established the new sub and non acute service at Calvary Public Hospital to provide specialist aged care and rehabilitation services outside of an acute care environment.

The establishment of the new service has also provided the framework for the recruitment of additional geriatric and rehabilitation specialists. The number of these medical specialists working in the ACT is remarkable given the competition for these services across the nation and the world.

The establishment of the new 16-bed Medical Assessment and Planning Unit (MAPU) at The Canberra Hospital is another major improvement in the types of services available for older people in our community. The MAPU provides for a quicker transfer of patients who arrive at the emergency department with complex care needs (generally older patients) to a specialised service which can provide the necessary assessment and treatment needs to maximise health outcomes.

The Government continues to improve services to older people in our community through the provision in the 2008-09 budget of an additional $4.2 million over the next four years to provide for the expansion of services as well as the establishment of the older person’s dietetic service and the expansion of the Rapid Assessment of the Deteriorating and At-Risk (RADAR) service. Both these services demonstrate the continuing commitment of the Government to address the needs of older people and increase the level of early intervention to maximise their health outcomes.

(3) Both ACT public hospitals have systems and initiatives in place to identify patients who are holders of Department of Veterans’ Affairs’ Gold Cards. This ensures that these patients receive the appropriate level of services. However, the status of a patient is not a determinant on the level of health services provided. Clinical need remains the sole consideration of our health service professionals.

(Question No 2052)

Mrs Burke asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 6 May 2008:

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