Page 3065 - Week 08 - Thursday, 25 June 2009

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MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Treasurer, Minister for Health, Minister for Community Services and Minister for Women) (8.59): I welcome the opportunity to speak to this very important line item in the budget. This budget for health, the 2009-10 budget, really kicks off our redevelopment of the public health system here in the territory. Not only does it maintain funding for important services and growth in services that we have been seeing, such as mental health, acute care and critical care capacity, elective surgery and cancer as pretty standard items very year in the health budget; it also goes on to provide new initiative funding, for the first time, in areas such as the GP workforce and our medical retrieval services, which have not previously been funded through the health line.

The new initiatives are important initiatives. They are part of our reshaping of the public health system to focus on keeping people out of hospital. That is an increased focus on the primary care areas, so integrated prevention for chronic disease, the health workforce redevelopment, the GP workforce initiatives and the preventative health program work very well there. But it also goes to issues such as the walk-in centre, a new model of care previously not provided to deal with some of the demand we have seen presenting to our hospitals; and the procurement and installation of a PET scanner, for the first time for the ACT.

I do not think I have heard other people talk about that but I have certainly received a number of representations over the years for Canberra to progress to the level where we have our own PET scanner. We have been working with the commonwealth for approval on that project and I am really pleased, as someone who has had fairly close personal and professional contact with our cancer services here in the ACT, that for the first time we will be able to get a PET scanner here for the people of the ACT and reduce that need to travel interstate.

So this budget does a number of things. It deals with the growth in demand and, as Mr Hanson pointed out, the latest quarterly performance report shows that we have seen in the first nine months of 2008-09 continued demand for our in-patient services, growing seven per cent, again, which is on top of the 15 per cent reported in the previous year and 22 per cent three years ago. So that plateau that we were hoping to see in in-patient services—on those sharp increases that we have seen over the past two years we are just not seeing, unfortunately, from a demand management point of view.

This budget goes to issues of demand but we also do not lose focus on where we need to be in the future. It does have money in the budget for our e-health, an e-healthy future, $90 million to position ourselves at the forefront of implementation of e-health technology into the ACT. We are lucky here that when we have the opportunity to rebuild our health system we have the opportunity to build that IT infrastructure into those new buildings as they are being built; some of the older jurisdictions that already have their hospitals in place or that have been refurbished are not in that same lucky position.

I take this opportunity to say that I will be visiting Denmark and Norway in August, after an invitation from the Danish minister for health, Mr Jakob Axel Nielsen, who

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