The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS (14:51): My question is directed to the Minister for Health and Wellbeing. Will the minister update the council on pressures facing the public health system?
The Hon. S.G. WADE (Minister for Health and Wellbeing) (14:51): I thank the honourable member for his question. January was a busy month with higher than winter-level presentations to emergency departments across our metropolitan hospitals. But a world-class, high-performing health system should be able to cope with these surges. What we saw in January was further evidence of how badly broken the South Australian health system is after 16 years of Labor. They might be calling now for the opening of beds, but during their time what did they do? They closed the Repat, cutting hundreds of beds out of the system. They downgraded services at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Modbury and Noarlunga. They built the new Royal Adelaide Hospital without engaging clinicians. Its design flaws are legend, including 60 per cent less space for outpatient facilities. Labor accepted ramping as normal and their Transforming Health experiment established it as a regular occurrence. The Marshall Liberal government rejects the complacency and neglect of Labor. Ramping is completely unacceptable. It's no wonder that, with Labor's record across the system, the new CEO of CALHN, the deputy chair of CALHN's transitional board and the representatives of KordaMentha on Monday described CALHN as culturally and financially broken. Labor's legacy is a $300 million budget overspend in CALHN in what Mark Mentha described as a shameful waste of taxpayers' money. Under Labor, CALHN's use of agency workforce was allowed to grow, taking away from continuity of care for patients and proper job security for nurses.
Under Labor, medical coding was ignored so that millions of dollars, which could have supported front-line services, was never recouped. Under Labor, bullying and a toxic work culture were allowed to develop. Labor ministers were warned of these issues over many years, including through external and internal reviews. Just as with ramping, Labor took no action. Labor allowed the health system to become desperately sick and now are trying to stop the Marshall Liberal government from turning this around.
Across the health system we are appointing boards, returning more authority to the local level. Decisions will be made in communities that will be impacted, not in head office. We have opened more mental health beds and we are reactivating the Repat. In CALHN, we have appointed a transitional board and a new CEO. We brought in KordaMentha, the same people who Labor supported in Whyalla but somehow they now hate. We are addressing the backlog of medical coding.
We established a whistleblowers' hotline and we have reduced agency staff, supporting our nurses in their work and our patients with continuity of care. Just today, the CEO of CALHN has convened a ramping workshop, bringing together the staff on the frontline on finding ideas to address this complex problem. Six years of Labor mismanagement and neglect cannot be fixed in a month or even a year, but the Marshall Liberal government will clean up this mess, and we have demonstrated that we are making a difference.