Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 1 Hansard (15 February) . . Page.. 43..
MR SPEAKER: Yes, Ms Bresnan.
MS BRESNAN: Minister, has there been an agreement from the visiting medical officers and clinicians to adhere to the policy for the waiting lists?
MS GALLAGHER: To the largest extent possible, yes. The Surgical Services Task Force met last Tuesday. They agreed to the revised documents for the new policy. I had another meeting with them on Thursday night, but unfortunately not all VMOs attend those meetings. The people that were there agreed to it, so we are progressing on the grounds that we have got agreement, even though the majority of surgeons, for one reason or another, do not attend those forums. So as much as we can we have got agreement, and in terms of reclassifications it is not up to the doctor any longer; there will not be any reclassifications upwards or downwards without a documented clinical reason and the signature of the doctor. It just simply will not happen.
MR COE: My question is to the Minister for Health. On 22 June you said this about ACT waiting lists:
As I have said a number of times, when you look at our performance in our urgent, emergency, surgery, we are the best in the country. I think up to 97 per cent of our category 1 patients are done on time.
It was later revealed by the Auditor-General that 250 patients were reclassified from category 1 in 2009-10, mostly without documented clinical reasons. What impact did the removal of those 250 patients from category 1 have on performance statistics for 2009-10?
MS GALLAGHER: You obviously have not read the annual report either. It is there in the annual report. If you agree with the Auditor-General's interpretation of it, where she has taken out all of the category 1s that were downgraded, regardless of whether they met one aspect of the policy, it is 88 per cent. If you take into consideration those that had a signature or a reason or an email from the bookings area, it is 93 per cent.
MR COE: A supplementary, Mr Speaker?
MR SPEAKER: Yes, Mr Coe.
MR COE: Minister, do you think it would be appropriate to apologise to patients removed from the category 1 list without a clinically documented reason?
MS GALLAGHER: That is a decision that their doctor has taken. It is not a decision I have taken. The audit—and our processes have already been changed to do this—says that when a reclassification is sought, within I think it is two days, the patient will be contacted by the surgical bookings unit to inform them of that change. It is not the doctor's responsibility. It is the surgical booking area. That change has already been put in place.