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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 08 Hansard (Wednesday, 10 August 2016) . . Page.. 2687 ..

In outlining these achievements it would be remiss of me not to talk about the great work that has been undertaken to reduce waiting times for elective surgery. We know that for so many people elective surgery is central to their quality of life. If you cannot move around properly, if you are unable to get back to work, if you cannot look after your kids because you are waiting too long for elective surgery, this has a direct impact on your life, your family’s life and our community as a whole.

Through the elective surgery blitz the government has focused very strongly on reforms in the way we deliver elective surgery. I am pleased to say that in 2015-16 the blitz has delivered the highest number of elective surgery procedures ever performed with over 13,400 surgeries undertaken. This is more than 1,500 above what was provided for in the previous year. This increase has significantly reduced the number of long wait patients in the ACT from 1,335 when we started the blitz to just 373 at the end of June. That is a 72 per cent improvement in the number of people no longer waiting for elective surgery longer than clinically indicated.

I want to acknowledge the very hard work of our surgical teams and specialists, nurses, doctors and hospital administrators who, over the past nine months, have put these reforms into place and put in extra hours and commitment to reduce the long wait list. While I am very pleased with the efforts of ACT Health over the past 12 months, there is much more work to be done. That is why through this year’s budget the government is delivering new funding to expand our health services and boost front-line staff.

There will be $139 million in new recurrent funding over four years to provide for an additional 170 new health staff, including 22 more doctors, 91 more nurses and 34 more allied health professionals. As part of this $139 million commitment, the budget delivers the $29 million in funding over four years to staff the expansion of the emergency department. It also includes $4.6 million for an additional intensive care unit bed and nine new health staff; $5.3 million for two special care nursery beds and eight staff at the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children; and an additional $5 million to improve access to timely assessment and acute stroke treatment services in our city.

We know that stroke is among Australia’s three largest causes of death and a leading cause of disability. We also know that timeliness in the treatment of stroke is critical. This new funding for acute stroke services will see the employment of an additional four specialised staff to provide timely assessments for clot breakdown treatment at Canberra and Calvary public hospitals and provide better access to vital clot retrieval procedures for patients who need it.

In addition, the new recurrent funding will improve access to a number of outpatient services including neurology, cardiology, respiratory and sleep services by delivering $4.2 million in funding. It will deliver $2.1 million to expand palliative care services by providing an additional paediatric palliative care nurse to address the needs of children and young adolescents, and $1.3 million for an extra 300 endoscopic procedures each year helping to meet growing demand in these areas.

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