Territory Stories

Debates Day 6 - Thursday 19 October 2017



Debates Day 6 - Thursday 19 October 2017

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Parliamentary Record 8


Debates for 13th Assembly 2016 - 2018; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 13th Assembly 2016 - 2020




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES Thursday 19 October 2017 2716 Essential healthcare services to this population are provided through more than 80 remote primary healthcare clinics across the Northern Territory. We deliver health services in the most remote parts of Australia and, I argue, the world. The challenges of delivering those health servicesTerritorians, wherever they are, have the right to access basic healthcare services, but the tyranny of distance makes it harder to deliver. We are determined to deliver those services, but the federal government needs to play its part. It cannot make these unfair cuts. Fifty-two of these clinics are managed by the Northern Territory Government and 33 are Aboriginal community-controlled health services. Remote primary healthcare clinics provide essential services such as child and maternal health, chronic disease management and health promotion, sexual health and disease control, alcohol and other drug services, eye health, hearing health, and mental health services. Access to comprehensive and quality remote primary healthcare services is essential for the Northern Territory Government to continue to achieve its targets under Closing the Gap, as is timely access to tertiary health services provided through hospitals. Top End and Central Australian health services are facing increasing demand, and we need to make sure the resources are there to provide safe, timely and quality tertiary health services. The Top End Health Service significantly improved elective surgery performance in 201617. I went to RDH to congratulate staff personally. As of 31 August 2017 there were two people waiting longer than the clinically recommended time on the elective surgery waiting list, compared with 534 people at the same time in the previous year. Hospital staff have worked hard to deliver this. People are working hard and they need resources. It is the responsibility of government to provide those resources. This extraordinary improvement in elective surgery waiting times is attributed to a focus review and audit of elective surgery waiting lists; extra surgical activity, with an emphasis on specialty pressure surgical areas; and increased shift times to facilitate more surgeries. This remarkable achievement is at risk of reversing to what it was, or worse, if the funding available for Territory hospitals is further limited. This is just one example. Other areas that could be adversely affected will result in longer wait times for outpatient clinics, fewer specialist clinics and the potential to halt the expansion of the services we have fought so hard for. Services that governments, whether the CLP or the Labor government, federal or Territorythose increased services for cardiothoracic and cancer services. A reduction in funding translates to a reduction in health services that are essential to maintaining the health and wellbeing of Territorians. Our government has made a commitment to Territorians to reduce alcohol -related harm and make our community safer. We saw that today through the formal handing over of the alcohol policies and legislation review. I have spoken about that in the House today, but I thank all members who availed themselves for briefings with the former Chief Justice, Trevor Riley, and for their commitment. I hope to build on that into the futurein tackling these issues. As a government, we have invested $17.2m in the Banned Drinker Register, including $15.5m of investment in health services to: develop specialist assessment and withdrawal services create integrated pathways to treatment and follow-up services expand capacity for rehabilitation services establish the BDR Registrar and specialist clinician positions. We are delivering a comprehensive, evidence-based, health focused approach to stop the destructive path alcohol creates across our community. The key to success of the new BDR is that it involves a comprehensive approach, including a range of therapeutic supports and supply reduction strategies. Funding for the entire system must be maintained and we commit to this, but we need the federal government to play its part. The entire health system in the Northern Territory, the gains we have fought so hard to make that our clinicians on the front line have helped us achieve, are potentially at risk if the federal Treasurer changes the measure of horizontal fiscal equalisation from equal to reasonable. A small change in wording could have a huge impact across the Northern Territory.