23 January 2024

Strong leadership can revitalise Canberra’s ailing healthcare system, says Castley

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Leanne Castley MLA.

Leanne Castley MLA says leadership is missing in the ACT health sector. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

Since becoming Shadow Health Minister in February 2022, the personal accounts I have heard from Canberrans about their experiences of the local health system have been frightening, heartbreaking and frankly unacceptable in a city like Canberra.

There are the headline stories that make the press and the individual tragedies many Canberrans are familiar with. However, I have been overwhelmed by the sheer volume of negative experiences Canberrans have imparted to me.

Stories like the woman having a miscarriage, who was told the early pregnancy centre couldn’t help her, so she felt she had no option but to go to Queanbeyan hospital for the required procedure, where she was seen the next day.

Or of the man with a broken back who, after being transferred to a different ward, was not fed for three days because of a lack of communication.

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I talk to stakeholders: doctors, nurses, allied health workers and paramedics. Working in a faltering system, these dedicated clinicians tell me the same thing over and over – that there is a gross failure of leadership across the health system.

When leadership is unable to articulate standards and a clear strategic direction, culture fails. And when culture fails, clinicians and ultimately patients suffer. The people of Canberra suffer.

Stakeholders tell me their experience of the health portfolio is that it is characterised by short-term fixes, without any strategic vision or funding. Meanwhile, a small army of communications staff generates a constant stream of media stories which make the government look active, while real funding and real health outcomes for Canberrans decline.

This is the approach of a Labor-Greens Government that, after 22 years, has become too entrenched in office, and is too mired in debt and hamstrung by its commitment to extend the tram to Woden, at a cost of billions.

This coming year the Canberra Liberals will be releasing our health policy. We have already committed to a Royal Commission into the ACT Health System. It will review the systems and governance at every level and ensure service and accountability is at the core of our health system.

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But more than providing a list of potential solutions, the ACT health system needs strong leadership, and it needs a government that genuinely cares for Canberrans as opposed to caring about its image and looking active.

Strong effective leadership sets the tone for standards and accountability. Effective leaders establish a clear vision, aligning all stakeholders towards common goals such as improving patient care outcomes.

This is crucial in setting high standards for service delivery, ensuring that healthcare practices meet the necessary quality and safety benchmarks and rebuilding public trust.

Strong leadership is the cornerstone of a robust, responsive, and accountable health system. We don’t just need a better health care system – we need one that is competently led.

Leanne Castley is the Deputy Opposition Leader and Shadow Health Minister

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An interesting article, well done Ms Castley! Looking forward to a Royal Commission into ACT Health – what a basket case it has been for so long!

You have made some valid points Kate Carey.

I have seen a great deal of division and theatre coming from Leanne Castley since she was elected to the Assembly and more so since she became deputy leader. The Canberra Liberals are the most conservative division of their party in the country dominated by the far right. Some of their elected members have strong links to right wing fringe and church groups including Right to Life, Advance Australia and Advance.

Ms Castley and her colleagues’ past contributions to debate that I have followed prove how far right she and the party continues to move. If the Canberra Liberals are elected, how will the party and their right-wing ideals align with our health network? How will these ideals impact abortion and reproductive choices for women, end-of-life choices, drug law reforms, mental health services, LGBTQIA+ rights, safe schools and those suffering disabilities? These are legitimate questions and have generated many debates and inquiries in the Assembly. Many health reforms introduced by the government have been vehemently opposed by the Canberra Liberals and their supporters. Some reforms have been overridden by their federal colleagues with the party’s strong lobbying and support.

Ms Castley’s latest opinion piece is disappointing and shows voters that the Canberra Liberals are not serious on health and have not progressed very far after 21 years in opposition. No new policy ideas but more sniping from the sidelines with unsubstantiated claims and the same tired old line that Labor has been in power for too long.

Elizabeth Lee and her tired old party have much work ahead if they want to win government in October 2024!

William Newby11:32 pm 21 Jan 24

Barrs mob have long struggled to deliver health services to just one hospital, why they doubled down and took over the second hospital from the Catholic’s would be anyone’s guess.
Some amazing people work at these facilities but the running of them is a hot mess.
What we pay for and what we get are not aligned at all, having spent three hours there last year with a crying- bleeding child I can attest first hand.
I don’t know if the Liberals would be any better at this but we are long overdue for a shake up in this town.
Barr won’t care he’s already half way out the door for one of those freshly minted Senators positions. Zero accountability, just hit the eject button and disappear.

The chances of an expansion of the senate in line with those report recommendations is between buckleys and zero. It won’t happen.

Leanne Castley, now Shadow Health Minister will have to come up with something better than sniping and making accusations in this article against the government that can’t be substantiated. A few more policy ideas on what the Canberra Liberals will bring to the table and what the party intends to do differently for ACT’s residents and our health care system would not go astray. Not just promising to undertake a shamefully expensive and unnecessary Royal Commission into the ACT Health System which the party knows will never proceed

Unfortunately, vision is not something we often see from the Canberra Liberals. How will they and their right-wing ideals align with our health network? How will these ideals impact on end-of-life decisions which many in her party oppose and is currently being debated in our assembly? What will the party do for our expanded health network including our walk-in health centres and the Cancer Research Centre to name a few? Will the party remove the payroll tax that the government introduced to encourage more bulk billing from our GP’s who currently have the highest payroll tax-free threshold in the nation? How do the Canberra Liberals intend to build on the expansion plans of the North Canberra Hospital? How do they intend to tackle our Emergency Department waiting times? All of these policies the Canberra Liberals have vehemently opposed in the past but refuse to explain how they will do things differently.

I look forward to Ms Castley and her party releasing the Canberra Liberals Health and other policies in the not-too-distant future!

Let’s just hope that the labour/greens fiasco comes to an end and canberrans finally receive the services we expect.

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