Page 3057 - Week 08 - Thursday, 25 June 2009

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We now have a good understanding of the threats that the lowering of Reserve Bank interest rates, poor returns on investments and the volatility of credits markets have on our financial investments. One of the first steps needs to be a review of our investment portfolio to see how changes to investments could be made to improve the rate of return we are currently receiving.

Proposed expenditure agreed to.

Proposed expenditure—Part 1.11—ACT Health, $748,692,000 (net cost of outputs), $117,309,000 (capital injection) and $7,102,000 (payments on behalf of the territory), totalling $873,103,000.

MR HANSON (Molonglo) (8:29): It is certainly a lot of money, isn’t it? Members, I think we are all concerned that, in terms of what Health delivers to our community, this is one of the most important, if not the most important, areas to discuss. When we look at the state of the health system and what this appropriation will provide, we have to put it in the context of where we sit in terms of health in the ACT. I note that the ACT public health services quarterly performance report has been released today. I have taken the opportunity to review the document and examine how we are tracking, positively and negatively. As is normally the case, there are some trends upwards and downwards.

There are no trends that in the brief review that I have given would suggest that there is a significant turnaround in any of the aspects that we are looking at, but there are some points that we should be worrying about. Indeed, it is the same old theme in many regards. In the emergency departments we see that fewer people are now being treated in category 3 within prescribed times and the times are getting worse for those in category 4. Only 50 per cent of people are being seen within the prescribed times of 30 minutes and 60 minutes respectively. So there is a decline there. Unfortunately, we have also seen a decline for people in category 5.

We are still not meeting our targets in terms of access block. The particularly worrying aspect of that is in relation to those aged over 75. I worry about the fact that there is a decline in that category, and I understand that ACT Health is taking measures to try and address the issue. A point in this report that is of particular concern to me relates to mental health clients. I note that we have money in the budget; I think we are up to about 7.7 per cent in this appropriation. We are aiming at a target of 12 per cent, but we note that that remains an aspiration. We have not yet seen a plan from the government in this appropriation or in the plans forward as to how we are going to move from that percentage figure of 7.7 to 12 per cent. What we see here is that for emergency departments, access block and mental health clients the situation is getting worse.

There are some other mental health statistics in the report which I think are also cause for concern. There are some worrying trends in radiotherapy and breast screening rates. The number of people taking up those services is declining in percentage terms. With a very fresh view of what is occurring, nothing in this report gives us confidence that the worrying trends that we see in those key areas are actually moving

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