A.2 and A.3 Overview and highlights 2012‑13

ACT Health faced a challenging year in 2012‑13, but rose to the challenge and performed well against its key strategic objectives.

In 2012‑13, ACT Health exceeded its target for the number of people removed from the elective surgery waiting list—the highest on record for the ACT—and continues to reduce the amount of patients waiting longer than clinically recommended timeframes.

ACT Public hospitals met the need for cancer treatment services in all three major triage categories: urgent, semi-urgent and non-urgent.

The ACT Government’s investment in the public health system bettered the national rate of government investment in 2012‑13.

The ACT also fared well in the management of chronic disease, with rates of life expectancy at birth for men and women in the ACT exceeding the national average. ACT residents have the highest life expectancy of any Australian jurisdiction.

However, the higher proportion of the ACT population diagnosed with some form of circulatory disease when compared with the national average is tangible evidence that the ACT population is aging faster than that of other jurisdictions, with the median age of the ACT population increasing 6.4 years since 1985 to 34.5 years in 2011.

Moreover, improved early intervention has increased detection of diabetes in the ACT. Experts estimate that only half of those with diabetes are actually aware of their condition.

The ACT met the national response timeframe for in-hospital assessments by the Aged Care Assessment Team, indicating the team’s responsiveness in assessing the needs of clients.

Our mental health services were particularly effective at minimising the need for seclusion, reflected in a significant reduction in the use of seclusion during inpatient mental health episodes.

Moreover, mental health consumers and carers were represented on all Mental Health committees, which monitor the delivery and planning of our mental health services.

We also achieved our target of less that 10 per cent of mental health clients returning to hospital within 28 days of discharge from an ACT public mental health unit, which is very heartening.

We performed well in minimising the incidence of vaccine-preventable diseases among the ACT’s population of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, with an overall immunisation rate of 88 per cent for children aged between 12 and 63 months, against a target of 90 per cent, thereby lessening the disparity with non-Indigenous Australians.

The high quality of service that Canberrans receive at our ACT public hospitals was reflected in the quality of theatre and post-operative care, the effective treatment of people who receive hospital-based care by our hospital-based and community services, and the low number of people admitted to hospital who acquired a bacteraemial infection (bacteria in the blood) during their stay.

The ACT exceeded the national average for its participation rate in the Cervical Screening Program.

ACT public hospital emergency departments continued to treat patients requiring urgent treatment within national timeframes, while dealing with increased demand.

Breastscreen ACT has a number of initiatives underway to raise awareness of its screening service, particularly within the target group of women aged 50 to 69, to lift the proportion of women in the target age group who have breastscreens.

The ACT had the lowest jurisdictional rate for the mean number of teeth with dental decay, missing or filled teeth among children at ages 6 and 12, showing the effectiveness of our prevention, early intervention and treatment services. Moreover, ACT Health met its target percentage for the number of dental emergency clients seen within 24 hours.

We didn’t achieve our long-term target for reducing the rate of broken hips (fractured neck of femur) in older persons. However, only small numbers of patients are included in the calculations, and small changes can result in significant fluctuations in the result.

The ACT has seen a continued decline in the rate of 12–17-year-olds who smoke regularly, which is significantly lower than the national rate.

This year we also completed the ACT Health Workforce Plan 2013–2018 and the ACT Health Aboriginal Workforce Action Plan 2013–2018 and implemented Health Workforce Australia (HWA) initiatives to support national health workforce reforms.

An independent evaluation report confirmed the Walk-In Centre (WiC) model for the treatment of people with minor illness or injuries to be a safe and effective means of providing primary healthcare services, while highlighting that it improved access to free, extended hours primary health care services.

In 2012‑13, we opened Stage One of the new Centenary Hospital for Women and Children—one of the Health Infrastructure Program’s major new capital works, which features state-of-the-art equipment and facilities. The Gungahlin Community Health Centre also opened, providing a range of services to those in the north of Canberra.

The Radiation Oncology Department commenced operation of a fourth linear accelerator, which was timely in light of increased demand for radiotherapy treatment services.

We improved our Prosthetics and Orthotics Service by implementing a triage clinic to better manage the needs of clients, resulting in a significant fall in the non-urgent waiting time.

ACT Health, through the Australian Council on Healthcare Standards, met all reaccreditation criteria—with 28 marked achievements, 18 extensive achievements and one outstanding achievement—to retain its full accreditation status for another four years.

Projections suggest that life expectancy will continue to increase over the coming years, with cancer, mental disorders and cardiovascular disease the leading contributors to the total burden of disease, contributing nearly half of the total disease burden.

A number of staff changes at Canberra Hospital and Health Services occurred during the year. Mr Lee Martin, Deputy Director-General, resigned to return to the United Kingdom, as did Ms Susan Aitkenhead, Executive Director of Nursing and Midwifery. Dr Jo Burnand, Executive Director of Medical Services, also resigned. We thank them for their contributions and wish them well for their future careers.

ACT Health also mourned the loss of three senior medical staff in 2012. Dr Damian McMahon, Professor Marjan Klijakovic and Dr Toni Medcalf (Peadon) all passed away, cutting short lives that were dedicated to delivering better health to the ACT community.