Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2012-2013 Week 1 Hansard (29 November) . . Page.. 312..
look better. Essentially that is what was occurring so the minister could come into this place and, although the waiting times for elective surgery were the worst in the nation, were appalling and were double the national average, she could say, "Well, it doesn't matter because category 1s are mostly being seen on time."That was not the case.
When we raised this issue, when we raised the concerns of patients, when we raised the concerns of doctors, the minister denied it. She said this was not happening; she said this was a fabrication. We had the Auditor-General's review, and the Auditor-General came back, and let me quote now from that Auditor-General's report, which is the subject of the minister's report today:
... the classification of clinical urgency categories did not always reflect ACT Health's policy and procedures, and therefore raised doubts on the reliability and appropriateness of the clinical classifications for patients within the waiting list.
In 2009-10, 250 patients in category 1 were reclassified, and 97 per cent of those occurred without documented clinical reasons. The audit examined 259 records of all category 1 patients whose clinical urgency category had been reclassified from category 1 to category 2, and the audit identified that 55 of those had no evidence of being approved by a doctor. In particular, downgrades of a patient's urgency category, often without documenting clinical reasons, raised considerable doubts about the reliability and appropriateness of the clinical classifications for patients on waiting lists. The strategies implemented by ACT Health have not been adequate to address increased demand and reduce waiting lists for elective surgery.
A couple of things happened. Firstly, the waiting times in this jurisdiction blew out to well beyond double the national average. The median wait time blew out to 76 days against a national average of about 35 days, noting that when this government took over, the median wait time was 40 days.
Mr Smyth: Michael Moore.
MR HANSON: And it is a very good point that Mr Smyth raises. Under Michael Moore, who was in the chamber today, the median wait time was 40 days under a Liberal government. So we saw it doubling. It was catastrophic. And when we demanded that action be taken, what we heard from the minister was that waiting times were just a part of the problem; they were not a big issue. But the outrage from the community and the concerns with inappropriate reclassification of patients caused significant problems that the Auditor-General reported, and the Auditor-General has reported today.
This minister says, "Pat myself on the back,"but what we have seen is tens of thousands of elective surgery patients in this town wait longer than anywhere else in the nation, often longer than a year, under this health minister. The median wait time is still 64 days.
Ms Gallagher: No, it's not.