Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 10 Hansard (20 September) . . Page.. 4050..
DR BOURKE: Chief Minister, can you please outline to the Assembly the latest information on the management of the elective surgery waiting list?
Opposition members interjecting—
MS GALLAGHER: Mr Speaker, I will try to answer this question without responding to the interjections from those opposite, who find it impossible to learn from your repeated warnings about conduct in question time.
This week the government released the ACT surgery report card as another measure of providing more information to the community about the work that government does. This report card has been developed to show people the progress that has been made in the area of elective surgery, particularly in seeking to increase the number of operations and reduce the waiting times, including resulting in fewer people on the waiting list.
It is very clear that since 2001 access to elective surgery has increased by about 65 per cent. This is despite population growth in the order of 16 per cent. In the last financial year the public hospitals, with some small assistance from the private hospital sector, managed to deliver 11,336 elective surgery operations. This was 16 per cent above the 9,778 operations provided in the previous financial year and well above the target that was set of 10,712 operations.
The increase in activity has resulted in a significant improvement in the number of people waiting too long for surgery. In just 18 months the number of people waiting longer than clinically recommended time frames has been reduced by 44 per cent. This figure is now the lowest it has been in more than eight years. This will continue to trend down over this year with the additional investment that has been made by the ACT and commonwealth governments.
The report card shows that the six-month median waiting time was at 76 days at the end of July 2011. As we have said, the median waiting time has recorded higher numbers while we focus on ensuring patients who have been waiting too long have access to their surgery. For example, in the first two months of this year the median wait time was down to 58 days. This number will move around a bit over the next few months, but it is significantly less than the 76 days that was reported for the first two months of the last financial year.
So we can see that progress is being made in reaching the targets. For categories 1 and 3, 95 per cent of patients and 79 per cent of patients respectively were seen on time. In the 90th percentile, that number has come down to 326 days. That is capturing the people waiting for the longest time. This is significantly less than last year and, indeed, is inside the one-year maximum waiting time for people listed as category 3 patients. We can see that progress is being made. There is more work to be done. I thank all of the staff who have been involved in the elective surgery reduction strategy for the hard work that they have put in and, indeed, the partnerships that we have created with the private sector to assist us with our work.