Page 3988 - Week 13 - Wednesday, 30 October 2013

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In the intensive care unit, seven new bed spaces have been provided. This will help staff to manage the patient load. A new family room and new staff areas create flexibility for the staff to manage and support patients and their families. These beds are an important early step to help prepare the unit for higher demand in coming years. The extension was jointly funded by the ACT government and the commonwealth in a project of $7½ million. The new Assistant Minister for Health, Senator Fiona Nash, was there at the opening.

I hope to continue a productive relationship with the new federal ministers around future funding and reforms in our public health system. This project is another step forward in building the ACT health infrastructure which is being rolled out across Canberra Hospital and the community health settings.

MADAM SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Dr Bourke.

DR BOURKE: Minister, are there any other improvements currently being planned for the emergency department?

MADAM SPEAKER: Minister for Health—as long as you do not announce new policy.

MS GALLAGHER: Thank you for your direction, Madam Speaker. Increasingly the emergency department is being seen as just one part of a whole possible approach to improving the timeliness figures. The factors which affect waiting times and patient flow go to different parts of the hospital, which is why we have focused on a number of initiatives, for example the new model of care which I just spoke about and also the ability to establish surge beds earlier this year to respond to periods of increased demand. We established the medical short stay unit in late 2012. We expanded the discharge lounge at the end of 2011. We have also purchased beds at Monash Goodwin Village for patients waiting for nursing home care, which has also been very successful.

The next major step is planning for the paediatric emergency department. Following the initial design and DA submissions, we expect a managing contractor to be appointed in March 2014, with an expected construction period of around 12 months. The feedback I get from parents, particularly, who use the Canberra Hospital is that separating children from the mainstream ED will be an important step in improving the amenity and care of children in the emergency department by creating a more appropriate environment for children and parents to wait in and through a specialised paediatric emergency area to support the high-quality treatment that all parents want for their children.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Hanson.

MR HANSON: Minister, did the fabrication of ED data from 2010 to 2012 affect the urgency of these enhancements?

MS GALLAGHER: No, they had nothing to do with them.

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