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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 08 Hansard (Wednesday, 10 August 2016) . . Page.. 2686 ..

As our population increases demand on our health system continues to grow and we need to grow and adapt to meet those future needs. The government is responding to this through a reform-growth agenda that is increasing our workforce, using modern models and capitalising on technology advances while still delivering more beds where they are needed.

As part of this year’s budget there is $237 million in new funding over four years to expand existing health services and provide better and more tailored health services to our most vulnerable Canberrans. We are investing in better mental health services. We are upgrading, maintaining and building new health infrastructure and we are boosting our front-line capacity with more health professionals for our community, including more doctors, more nurses and more allied health professionals.Before I expand further on this record investment in health I will take the opportunity to reflect on some of the key achievements of the portfolio over the past 12 months. As I have said before in this place, one of my main priorities has been about improving access to timely health services for Canberrans, particularly acute care. This includes in our emergency department and in a range of other areas. In the emergency department we have been opening a number of key areas of the emergency department expansion. The first phase, which opened in January, includes the new mental health short stay unit which has six new separate patient bedrooms with staff nearby and an overall increase in beds. In early February the second area of the first phase of the emergency medicine unit opened, and that provides an additional 12 patient bays, an overall increase of three.

The second area of the ED expansion saw the ACT’s first dedicated paediatric streaming and waiting area at the Canberra Hospital. With six patient beds, two consulting rooms and a private sub-waiting area, this new space is improving how we care for some of our youngest patients. The second phase also delivered the clinical forensic medical service, an area with a consultation room and waiting and interview space designed primarily for adults and children who have experienced assault, physical abuse, domestic violence or sexual assault. The third phase, which became operational in June, includes the new fast track area: 10 bed spaces and three procedure rooms. This area, again with its own dedicated waiting area, will be utilised to treat patients with less acute conditions.

Overall, when the expansion is complete the Canberra Hospital ED will have an extra 1,000 square metres of floor space, a 30 per cent increase in patient treatment spaces and three more ambulance bays. I am pleased to say these improvements, complemented by the reform process we began earlier this year, are already making a difference in improving access to timely care in the ED. Between March and the end of June this year, compared with the same period in 2015, the average wait time in the Canberra Hospital ED has improved by 15 per cent, and the average treatment time has been cut by 35 minutes. That has occurred even though the average daily presentation rate has continued to grow. Through the hard work undertaken by our doctors, nurses and hospital administrators as part of our ED reform agenda and the injection of $29 million in new funding in this year’s budget for 54 new health staff in the ACT in the ED over the next four years I expect the improvements and timeliness to continue.

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