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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 5 Hansard (25 May) . . Page.. 2226..


(5) A letter was received indicating that a family had tried to contact the Health Protection Service after hour's service during the 2003 Christmas break. The outcome of an investigation into the incident is outlined at point 3 above.

(6) The Health Protection Service after hours phone service is not currently monitored, nor is it considered necessary. An automated system to divert callers to an after hours message service is operational. This service gives callers the option of leaving a message which is actioned the next day. Callers are also provided with a pager number that allows them to contact an on-call officer 24 hours a day for urgent matters.

(7) Residents who have an urgent public health concern such as food poisoning are now able to make contact with the Health Protection Service through hospital emergency departments, Health first or Canberra Connect.

Radiologists

(Question No 1443)

Mr Smyth asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 31 March 2004:

(1) How many radiologists are currently employed to work in the A.C.T.;

(2) What is the average waiting time for radiology treatment in the A.C.T.

Mr Corbell: The answer to the member's question is:

(1) Radiologists and Radiation Oncologists are related but distinct disciplines within the medical profession. The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists define the disciplines as follows:

Radiologists are medical practitioners with 6 years postgraduate specialist training. They employ diagnostic imaging in diagnosis and as a specific aid to certain forms of treatment. Diagnostic imaging includes X-rays, thermography, Magnetic Resonance Imaging and ultrasound.

Radiation Oncologists are medical practitioners with 6 years postgraduate specialist training. They advise on the treatment or combinations of treatment most appropriate and are usually responsible for the total care of the patient suffering from cancer. They have special skills in and are responsible for the use of ionizing radiation in the treatment of patients.

The Member's Office has confirmed that the questions asked relate to radiation oncology.

(2) The delivery of radiation therapy requires an initial consultation with a radiation oncologist who establishes the urgency and priority of care. Radiation therapists, in consultation with the radiation oncologist, subsequently plan and initiate the treatment. The Radiation Oncology Department at The Canberra Hospital has positions for four radiation oncologists and 21.5 full time equivalent radiation therapists.

There are three radiation oncologists currently providing care to cancer patients. Concerted and comprehensive advertising to recruit a fourth specialist is continuing.


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