Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 3 Hansard (16 March) . . Page.. 883..
MS GALLAGHER: The steps that are being put in place immediately are that the clinicians are responsible for speaking directly with the patients if there is a delay or if there is any change to the treatment that they were offered. I think that is best, because the admin staff do not have the clinical knowledge or background to provide the information to patients if there is a change. That is the first thing.
The second thing, of course, is building up our integrated cancer centre service, which we are doing with a new building but also in the service that is offered, which is to pull together all cancer services that are currently run out of the Canberra Hospital, and indeed by the non-government sector, to ensure that we have a system where cancer services are wrapped around the patient, not the patient having to pursue different treatment options from different specialties.
At the moment if you need to go to haematology, you go to one area of the department of the hospital. If you need to go to oncology, you go to another area. If you need chemotherapy, you go to another area. That is the way that cancer services have developed over time, but it is no longer the preferred model for delivering cancer services. That is why we have successfully lobbied for the integrated cancer centre and all of our preparations are going into making sure that that service actually wraps the treatment required around the patient.
In relation to whether or not I can promise that no patient will be sent interstate, I cannot promise that. It is a judgement made by clinicians on consultation with their patients about access to care. If someone presents today and needs urgent treatment tomorrow then that may actually bump someone who does not need urgent treatment tomorrow, or that person may be offered a spot interstate. That is the way the system works. We get referrals from Victoria.
MR SPEAKER: Supplementary, Mr Hargreaves?
MR HARGREAVES: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Isn't it true, minister, that there is a chronic shortage of radiotherapists and isn't it true that in the term of the former Liberal government there was a shortage because they were headhunted by New South Wales Health to Wagga? And did the Liberal government of that day apologise to people in the ACT?
Mr Seselja: Mr Speaker, multipart supplementary questions—I seek your ruling.
MR SPEAKER: Mr Seselja, there is no point of order. Whilst it would seem likely—your point—and that is why I had to think about it, it actually requires precise and direct terms for the supplementary questions, and I think Mr Hargreaves was reasonably concise in his question.
MS GALLAGHER: I thank Mr Hargreaves for the question. The issue of the workforce is a critical one, and there are staff shortages in our unit. Indeed, radiation therapy staff are very highly sought after and in demand. In this case, two of our radiation therapists retired and another four junior radiation therapists got work interstate, as I understand it.