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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 06 Hansard (Tuesday, 22 June 2010) . . Page.. 2161 ..

With regard to access to primary healthcare services more generally, the ACT primary healthcare strategy 2006-09 provided the strategic directions for the delivery of primary care services in the ACT. This strategy recognises that access to health care should be equitable and that all people in the ACT should have access to a range of health services and providers no matter where they are. A steering committee, which includes consumers, oversees the achievement of this important strategy. The government intends to develop a new primary healthcare strategy by the end of 2010 to ensure that we are well placed to take full advantage of the new national healthcare reforms.

One of the recommendations from the GP task force final report was to develop and evaluate new models of primary healthcare service delivery, which included generalist medical services for targeted populations unable to access usual GP services. This recommendation aligns with a number of recommendations made by the standing committee. The standing committee also mentioned the importance of appropriate consultations with all relevant stakeholders in the development of the government’s e-health strategy.

A key part of the ACT government’s program “your health—our priority” is the development of new and innovative ways of delivering health care in the public health system in order to provide an integrated service that is safe, effective, patient-centred, timely and efficient. Information and communication technologies such as e-health are an important part of this approach. In the last budget, we did commit $90 million to progress an ambitious e-health strategy, known as the healthy future. This plan will play a large part in ensuring the capacity of the ACT health system to meet the growing needs of consumers and providers in the ACT.

The focus of healthy future is to make the right information available to the right person at the right time and place. This strategy will also prepare the ACT for the emerging national e-health environment. The ACT government is committed to ensuring that there is appropriate consultation with all relevant stakeholders in the development of this strategy. These and a number of initiatives that the ACT government is implementing are aimed at increasing access to general practitioners and primary health care more generally for all community members wherever they live and whatever their health status.

By increasing the numbers of GPs practising in the ACT, exploring expanded roles for our nurses and allied health professionals, improving the range of primary healthcare services available and ensuring our general practice workforce is supported in the work they do, ACT residents will enjoy better access to primary health care when and where they need it.

I thank the committee for their deliberations over a number of broad and varied issues that affect the attraction and retention of general practitioners and the delivery of a primary healthcare system that is accessible and flexible in its ability to meet the needs of the community. The findings of the inquiry will inform ACT government policy and initiatives as we continue to work to provide the community with an excellent primary healthcare system.

Debate (on motion by Ms Bresnan) adjourned to the next sitting.

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