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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 06 Hansard (Wednesday, 7 June 2017) . . Page.. 1997 ..

My colleagues have made some important related announcements in this budget, such as the nurse-led year 7 health checks and the expansion of the child and adolescent mental health service primary school intervention program. I am keen to see these efforts across the government working together to make a positive, lasting impact for our young people.

Budget—health funding

MS CODY: My question is to the Minister for Health. Minister, following on from recent announcements on the expansion to healthcare services that this government will provide, how does this budget improve access to health care in the community?

MS FITZHARRIS: I thank the not-so-well Ms Cody for her question. As I have previously mentioned, and as the Chief Minister mentioned yesterday, this budget is focused on providing Canberrans with easy access to affordable, accessible health care in our community. As a Labor government, we know it is important to make sure Canberrans have better access to health care where and when they need it, whether it is prevention, primary care, community care or acute and specialist care. That is why we have a range of initiatives to strengthen our health services and keep Canberrans healthy and well.

We know that we cannot rely on the commonwealth government to increase bulk-billing, although we welcome their lifting of the Medicare rebate freeze. It will not come soon enough for GPs in our community. For our part, this government will improve access to affordable health care by providing $1.05 million over three years in an incentive grant program for general practice groups to provide more bulk-billed health care. This will include bulk-billed general practice as well as allied healthcare services, particularly on Canberra’s south side.

This will not only improve access to bulk-billed services but provide better coordinated care for patients, as they will be able to access a range of health services in the one place, and communication between collocated service providers will be improved.

Our election commitment of delivering more of our successful nurse-led walk-in centres is also key to improving access to health care in our community. We are providing $14 million over the next few years to deliver a new walk-in centre for Gungahlin and to develop the design for another walk-in centre in the Weston Creek region, as well as scoping work for a new walk-in centre in the inner north.

The budget will also provide funding for ACT Health to expand the highly regarded hospital in the home program, which provides high quality access to health care for some of the territory’s unwell residents, so that they can receive that care in their own home and not in a hospital setting. We really look forward to doing the planning work for significantly rolling out this service over the coming years.

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