Page 1621 - Week 06 - Tuesday, 12 May 2015

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MADAM SPEAKER: I think 19 seconds is not an unreasonable amount of time for the minister to work up to it, but I will remind him of the provisions of standing order 118(a) that he be concise and directly relevant to the subject matter of the question. I call the Minister for Health, on the question.

MR CORBELL: All patients, regardless of where they are treated, receive a very high level of care. The opposition can try to portray this level of care as substandard, but the fact is that all of the instances of care are of a very high quality and when the emergency department gets busy all available spaces are utilised.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Ms Porter.

MS PORTER: Minister, will the subacute hospital, when up and running, assist in relieving stress on the public emergency department?

MR CORBELL: I thank Ms Porter for her supplementary. It is no doubt the case that indirectly it will. Indirectly it will because one of the key issues associated with delay in the emergency department is the challenge of transferring people who have already been treated in the ED through into the main hospital. The lack of availability of beds because of demands in other parts of the hospital system leads to those blockages in the ED.

The investment in the University of Canberra public hospital as a subacute hospital will deliver capacity to shift some of that demand out of wards within the Canberra Hospital and Calvary public and allow greater utilisation of those beds for patients, including patients who come through the emergency department. So there is no doubt that it will make an important contribution. That is why we are growing investment in our health system. That is why we are investing in better cancer treatment facilities, in better maternity treatment facilities, in better community health facilities and in better psychiatric and mental health facilities.

These are the investments of a Labor government committed to investing in better health infrastructure and better health care. The expansion of the emergency department at Canberra Hospital, increasing the number of beds by almost a third, is another demonstration of that very strong commitment to make sure that health care is there when Canberrans need it.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Hanson.

MR HANSON: Minister, will cutting 60 beds from the planned subacute hospital have a long-term impact on finding acute beds for ED patients at TCH?

MR CORBELL: I think the Leader of the Opposition is just a bit slow, because he knows that the context of his question is completely false.

Mr Hanson: Madam Speaker, on a point of order, is it unparliamentary to call somebody “slow”? I seek your guidance on that.

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