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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 02 Hansard (Tuesday, 16 February 2016) . . Page.. 430 ..

MADAM SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Ms Burch?

MS BURCH: Minister, can you explain the benefits of the emergency department expansion at the Canberra Hospital?

MR CORBELL: I would like to thank Ms Burch for her supplementary. Yes, the benefits are that we will see an extra 1,000 square metres of floor space overall. The number of treatment spaces will grow from 54 to 75 when it is completed late next year. There will be three extra ambulance bays; there will be 21 additional treatment spaces overall, and that includes nine more acute beds for patients with severe conditions; three more beds or cubicles for patients with less severe problems; three more beds in the emergency medicine unit; two designated paediatric consulting rooms, as I mentioned earlier; two additional emergency resuscitation bays; and the new mental short-stay unit that I mentioned earlier.

So this is a really significant expansion of capacity. In my most recent visit to the hospital, I had a good conversation with the acting director of the emergency department and some of her staff. They strongly welcome this increase in capacity. They see it as making a real practical difference to their day-to-day work, both in terms of their own work environment but also in terms of the environment in which they deliver care to Canberrans needing emergency care.

It is great outcome for our hospital; it is a great outcome for our health service. This, in combination with the work practice and work flow reforms that the government is strongly focused on to drive down waiting times in our ED, means that we are well on track to delivering more timely access in the time frames that people expect in our emergency department. That is one of my key priorities as Minister for Health.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Ms Porter.

MS PORTER: Minister, can you explain to the Assembly how the new mental health short-stay unit within the new and expanded emergency department could benefit and care for Canberrans?

MR CORBELL: I thank Ms Porter for her supplementary. Yes the mental health short-stay unit is a critically important part of the emergency department. As I said earlier, many people with mental illness present to the ED. They need a secure, safe place to be cared for whilst an assessment is made, particularly while their crisis is being stabilised. Many of them can see their immediate, acute crisis stabilised without the need for admission to the adult mental health unit, and that is a good thing if that can be achieved.

Providing these dedicated spaces, purpose built, private, respectful, with a lot of natural light coming in, unlike the previous unit, helps those people who are suffering an acute mental illness and who are in crisis. It is a very, very important care setting and one that is delivering real results.

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