Page 149 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 14 December 2016

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We are focused on providing a range of healthcare options right across our city for Canberrans where and when they need them.

MR PETTERSSON: Minister, what role will preventative care play in the delivery of the government’s 10-year plan for health?

MS FITZHARRIS: Preventative health care will play a major role in the delivery of healthcare services under this term of government. The government is committed to preventative healthcare approaches that protect the health of Canberrans. This forms another important part of our long-term investment in health care. We will develop a preventative health strategy and appoint a preventative health coordinator to focus on keeping Canberrans healthy and out of hospital.

The coordinator will be responsible for developing preventative health strategies with a focus on addressing smoking rates, alcohol consumption and obesity, the burden of disease and reducing the growing incidence of chronic healthcare conditions. The appointment of a preventative health coordinator will drive a more effective alignment of prevention programs across ACT government and the private and non-government sector to start reducing the main causes of chronic disease.

We know that the majority of the burden of disease experienced by the community extends from chronic conditions. About a third of this burden is potentially preventable by reducing lifestyle factors like smoking, poor physical activity, poor diet and the unhealthy use of alcohol, as well as physical factors like obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels.

We have made significant investments in prevention which have yielded some important wins like children drinking fewer sugary drinks, adults increasing their levels of active travel and slowing the growth in obesity among children. But we must build on this work and consider ways to strengthen it by looking at what has been working well and what has not.

Long-term investment in preventative health programs will help Canberrans stay healthy, help our community thrive and ultimately assist the health system to remain sustainable into the future.

MS CODY: Minister, what improvements are being made to the delivery of emergency care for Canberrans?

MS FITZHARRIS: I thank Ms Cody for the supplementary question. The ACT government will make sure that Canberra’s public hospitals continue to provide excellent emergency care for patients in and around the ACT. It is a little-known fact, as I mentioned yesterday, that the Canberra Hospital emergency department is one of the 10 busiest emergency departments in Australia. In the last financial year ACT public hospital emergency departments recorded 135,307 presentations, a four per cent increase when compared to the same period last year. But we are working to address pressures in our emergency departments, and the recent expansion of the Canberra Hospital ED will increase the capacity by more than a third.

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