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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 05 Hansard (Thursday, 7 May 2015) . . Page.. 1527 ..

DR BOURKE (Ginninderra) (3.37): We live in a safe, well-planned and accessible city that has topped the OECD ratings for the most livable city in the world. The recent OECD report ranked the ACT as having the best wellbeing scores, when totalled, of the 362 regions they assessed over all member nations.

In terms of health specifically, the ACT performed among the top handful of regions, scoring an impressive 9.9 out of 10. This does not happen by chance. As I said earlier, the Australian approach to accessible health care means that we all profit. Our community expects and deserves high quality, accessible and sustainable health services. We know that the cost of most hospital and health services in the ACT is higher than it is in the rest of the nation. Our community expect to be able to access most of the health services they need within our local hospital and health services.

Governments from both sides of this place have established services that ensure that people can access the health care they need close to home. There are some highly specialised services that are provided in our public hospital system that would not normally be available in a community of our size. However, we have accepted that at the most vulnerable times people want to be close to family and loved ones. That is why we have ensured that for all but the most complex and rare conditions we can provide a local solution to the healthcare needs of our community.

In our ACT public hospitals, we provide services such as open heart surgery, complex brain surgery, intensive care services for babies and bone marrow transplantation, just to name a few. For these services, we do not provide care to the number of people required to maximise the efficiency of that care. However, the alternative would be to send people to Sydney or elsewhere.

Over the period 2001-02 to 2012-13 the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s figures show that we more than doubled the number of doctors in our hospitals, up from 290 to 810, an increase of 180 per cent, the highest in Australia, with a national average growth of just half that over the same period. We employed an extra 1,200 nurses, an increase of 86 per cent over the last 12 years, which was also the highest growth recorded in Australia and almost double the national growth of 48 per cent. We now have more than three times the number of allied health and diagnostic staff that we had in 2001-02, a whopping 233 per cent increase against a national average of 50 per cent.

These staff provide our hospital and health system with the highly skilled and trained clinical staff which we need to meet our needs, and this is at the heart of what I am talking about today. A well-funded health system has, at its core, a highly skilled and resourced clinical workforce that is able to respond effectively to the needs of its community. And we have this in spades in the ACT. We are working to ensure it stays that way. The nursing school, the allied health faculties at the University of Canberra and the ANU Medical School also provide us with home-grown clinicians that are linked to our community from the start. The support of these educational institutions also adds a cost to the ACT government. However, we see these costs as an investment in the future, a means of future-proofing our health services by growing our own highly skilled, clinical workforce right here.

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