Page 78 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 9 December 2008

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Minister, according to the standards determined by the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine, the percentage of presentations meeting that standard of waiting times in the ACT is significantly less than the target, at 55 per cent and 56 per cent respectively. Given that we are so far behind the achievable targets after seven years of your government, what will you do differently during this term to improve these poor outcomes?

MS GALLAGHER: I thank Mr Coe for the question. The commitments we have made in the election around this are to establish some walk-in centres. We will be looking to establish the first walk-in centre in the emergency department as soon as we can. In fact, the commonwealth’s additional money for emergency department reform might mean that we are able to open that a bit earlier than we had planned. We are hoping that that will take some pressure off our categories 4 and 5 particularly—not category 3; they would still need to be seen in the emergency department.

There is a whole range of other measures that we use to continue to meet our triage categories. Additional beds in the hospital allow people to move through the emergency department faster; it is true that access block remains probably the major challenge in meeting our triage categories. If people get into the emergency department and then cannot get out into the hospital, that stops other people from being seen on time. So one of the first things we will do is open some additional beds. That will happen early next year. I think there are an additional 20 to be opened in the second half of next year. We are hoping that that will take again some additional pressure off the emergency department. If we can get our walk-in centres open, or the first walk-in centre open, in the first half of next year, that would be great.

The other area that we will move to work quickly on is the visiting locum service for residential aged-care facilities through a model such as CALMS. Again, that would enable elderly patients, who often spend too long in the emergency department, to be assessed and treated. If we are able to send out a doctor to their residential aged-care facility to provide that care where they live, we think that would be more appropriate, and again that would take some pressure off our emergency departments.

But these are things that will not be solved alone by election promises. It is stuff that remains just hard work—hard day-to-day work by the health department and by those hardworking professionals in the emergency department—that will enable us to meet those triage categories on time, and that remains a focus for all of us.

Solar power

MS PORTER: Mr Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Water. Minister, can you please inform the Assembly of the progress on the government’s commitment to the development of a solar power facility in the ACT?

MR CORBELL: I thank Ms Porter for the question. The government is moving ahead with its plans for the establishment of a solar power facility in the ACT. This was one of the key commitments made by the government in the lead-up to the last election and I am pleased to report to the Assembly today on progress in this regard.

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