Page 1606 - Week 06 - Tuesday, 12 May 2015

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All of this is at risk due to the federal government’s short-sighted cost cutting in health. I will give just one example: over the last 10 months the ACT has virtually doubled the number of public elective surgeries through Canberra Hospital and decreased the number of patients waiting too long for care. This focus may be forced to end if the commonwealth does not change its approach to the funding of health services. Less investment in hospital services will result in longer waiting lists and fewer services. Less investment in health services means a reduced ability to keep employing staff to effectively manage our city’s healthcare needs. This has the real potential to negatively impact across outcomes of care—leading again to poorer outcomes for individuals right across our community—and hit our economy.

It is clear that proper investment in healthcare is a major public and economic good. We know this; the community knows this. I am calling on members to support this motion today to send a message to the federal government that we cannot accept their cuts to hospital funding, that we stand in unity with other Australian states and territories—Liberal and Labor premiers and chief ministers—who recognise that this is a major problem. It has to be addressed. It is the fundamental issue at the core of the success of our federation. The federal government have to do better. If those on the other side do not believe me, they should believe Mike Baird. He identifies this as the number one issue facing the nation.

DR BOURKE (Ginninderra) (12.04): The Chief Minister and the Minister for Health have already covered many of the points that need to be raised on the importance of a well-funded health system. They have made it clear that a well-funded and responsive health system provides benefits to individuals and the community as a whole. It also makes good economic sense. A healthy community with access to the services they need is a productive community. Cutting funds for hospital services and increasing the cost of community-based care reduces the health outcomes of the community, reduces individual health outcomes and hurts our economy.

We know there are areas where we can further improve, and we will continue to work for better access to our public health and hospital services. However, for most services that the community needs, they have timely access. For people with the most dire need, our services are second to none. The commonwealth must recognise the need to continue to fund health services at the levels that support better health outcomes. But for us it is about more than this. There is a considerable social dividend for adequate investment in health services. It is not a coincidence that the countries that have the highest life expectancies are those whose governments recognise the importance of a well-funded and equitable health system.

Within Australia Canberrans top the list in terms of longevity and healthy lifestyles. The ACT continually performs better than the rest of the nation for people admitted to hospitals for conditions that are best managed in a community setting. By investing wisely in a range of health services and supporting services that provide care for people with chronic conditions, we can limit the need for people to be admitted to hospital. None of this happens by chance.

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