Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 13 Hansard (17 November) . . Page.. 5544..
MR HANSON: A supplementary, Mr Speaker.
MR SPEAKER: Yes, Mr Hanson.
MR HANSON: Minister, this same article alleges that the diabetes strategic plan was approved two years ago but the service still lacks a director and that clinicians and bureaucrats are at odds over whether the position should be filled by a doctor or an administrator. Minister, do you agree with the assertion that doctors and bureaucrats are at odds?
MS GALLAGHER: There is no doubt that I think at least two doctors that I am aware of have had concerns around how the process has been run and the delays to appoint a clinical director to that position. Those concerns have been acknowledged and have been addressed. Some of the delays go to the issue of national health reform, which has been underway for the last 12 to 18 months intensely. That has looked at the interaction between community health services and services in the acute system.
So I think there have been some reasonable delays around the implementation of this while that work has been finalised. However, as I said, in hindsight, with the concerns that the doctors have raised, I think we should have advertised the clinical director's position earlier. That position has been advertised and will be filled as soon as possible.
MR HANSON: A supplementary question, Mr Speaker?
MR SPEAKER: Yes, Mr Hanson. Minister, is the diabetes service in the ACT adequate and on par with services elsewhere in Australia?
MS GALLAGHER: As I am advised, yes, it is. I have looked into this in relation to some concerns from patients, I think, that have been raised around access to care. But my understanding is that on all national benchmarks on the range of services that we provide, we provide a very good diabetes service.
That is not to say that there is not room to improve or the need for additional resources. As the level of diabetes increases in our community—which is forecast to be one of the biggest growth areas in demand for health services—we will need to resource this area with additional funds.
MR HANSON: My question is to the Minister for Health. I refer to an article in the Canberra Times of 13 November where several diabetes patients raised serious concerns with diabetes services in the ACT, including long waiting times to see endocrinologists and diabetes educators, and inadequate services for young adults. Some patients were reported as saying that they sought treatment interstate because of the difficulty accessing services in the ACT and because interstate public hospital diabetes outpatient clinics were more timely and of a higher standard than those offered in Canberra. Minister, why is it that ACT residents with diabetes are waiting so long for services and being forced to travel interstate for treatment?