Page 1843 - Week 06 - Thursday, 9 May 2013

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MADAM SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Dr Bourke.

DR BOURKE: Minister, why is it important for people to discuss end-of-life advance care planning with their families and have a documented plan?

MS GALLAGHER: I thank Dr Bourke for the supplementary. I think that all of us realise that if individual choices about healthcare decisions are known then it is a lot easier at the time that our loved ones, or indeed the person we appoint to make those decisions should we be able to—can be respected at a time when that decision-making is necessary.

Advance care planning provides the mechanism to improve the quality of end-of-life care. It allows people to voice their wishes about access and use of health services, taking into account their own personal beliefs. Advance care planning offers everyone, especially people living with a terminal condition, their families and their significant others, because it is not always their families, the opportunity to take control of decisions which affect their care. If individuals make their decisions known ahead of time, clinicians do not have to provide care they know can be futile.

I think that all of us realise the difficulty in getting the community to talk extensively about end-of-life and advance care planning, but, like organ donation and topics such as that, it is really important if we are going to continue to empower consumers of healthcare services and have clinicians able to respect those wishes—and those in their families as well.

This is a topic that I am very interested in. I am glad the Local Hospital Network Council has prioritised it as a topic that it wants to be interested in and provide advice on. That will enable the Assembly to consider those recommendations and any changes that need to be made based on them.

MADAM SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Ms Berry.

MS BERRY: Minister, what is the role of the Local Hospital Network Council in convening forums such as this?

MS GALLAGHER: I thank Ms Berry for the supplementary. The Local Hospital Network Council has been established under national health reform. It is an advisory body here in the ACT and it provides advice through to the Director-General of ACT Health. Indeed, I table advice from the Local Hospital Network Council in the Assembly.

The council is made up of representatives and leaders of local healthcare organisations and consumers. It has a legislative mandate to consult with the community on any issues affecting the satisfactory delivery of health services and the overall performance of the local hospital network, which includes Canberra Hospital, Calvary hospital, Clare Holland House and QEII.

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