Page 176 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 15 February 2012

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DR BOURKE: I refer to my previous answer, Mr Speaker. I thank the member for her question but I will not be naming members of my staff.

Health—staff numbers

MS PORTER: My question is to the Chief Minister in her capacity as the Minister for Health. Minister, while the government continues to upgrade and expand our health infrastructure, as a former registered nurse and midwife I am interested to know if you can advise the Assembly about increases in front-line health jobs over the past 12 months.

MS GALLAGHER: I thank Ms Porter for the question and for a question about a very important matter that affects all Canberrans. One of the key priorities for this government is our continued investment in jobs and making sure that we have the staff available to provide the front-line services we need to deliver those quality services to all Canberrans. As the Treasurer has outlined in comments he has made in the last few days around the budget update, one of the key responses from the government is to ensure that we remain a strong employer in the territory and that we send out messages of confidence about our ACT economy and the strength of our budget.

Obviously the health workforce is one of the areas where we are seeing continued growth in our staff numbers and we expect to see that growth continue. Health staff, as forecast in the budget, have increased over the last 12 months from November 2010 to November 2011. These figures include permanent, temporary and casual staff but do not include the Calvary public and contract staff such as visiting medical officers.

What we have seen are increases in the workforce across all classifications, including professional officers, allied health professionals, technical officers—like rehab workers and instrument technicians—general service officers, admin officers and of course, very importantly, junior doctors and graduate nurses. The increases demonstrate our commitment to growing our public health workforce and maintaining and growing services to the community.

Over the year to November 2011 the nursing workforce has increased by 84 full-time equivalent employees. This is an increase overall of four per cent. Professional officers have increased by 40 full-time equivalent employees, again an increase of just under five per cent. This group is made up of speech pathologists, physiotherapists, dieticians and medical radiation therapists.

I am also pleased to advise that in 2012 all junior doctor positions have been recruited. In fact, just last month around 200 health graduates began what I hope will be long and satisfying careers in our public system. Seventy medical interns, more than 20 allied health professionals and 120 graduate nurses have joined our workforce in 2012.

We think these are sensible investments, growing our health services. What we need to keep an eye on as we move through some of the pressures on the budget is to make

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