Page 1486 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 1 June 2022

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reality that we have to deal with. It is not something that any of us want to do, to delay elective surgery.

I would also point out to Ms Lawder—she referenced the 2020 reduction in elective surgery—that the AIHW data that the Canberra Times reported on today indicated that the ACT had the biggest increase in hospital separations for any part of any jurisdiction in the country the following year, because we worked really hard to catch up. We got through that backlog and caught up. Unfortunately, the impact of the Delta wave and the impact of the Omicron wave have seen the number of people waiting increase again.

Ms Castley: A point of order, Madam Speaker. The question was how many patients have missed out on their surgery since operations were suspended or slowed down? How many patients?

MADAM SPEAKER: The minister was in the policy area. You have got two seconds left, Minister.

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: Thank you, Madam Speaker. I am happy to take on notice the detail of that.

MS LAWDER: Minister, what category are those patients and when will their surgeries take place?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Ms Lawder for the supplementary. We try extremely hard not to delay category 1 elective surgery. That is an absolute last resort, but I cannot say that it never happens. Most of those people would be in the category 2 and category 3 elective surgeries. Of course, we will try to catch up on those as quickly as we can. That is why we have made arrangements—and we funded it in the budget review—to shift some elective surgery from the public system into the private system. We are continuing to work with our private hospital partners to ensure that we get through as much public surgery work as we possibly can, given the resource constraints that every health system—every jurisdiction—is facing across the country.

We put in specific additional resources to shift some of that activity into the private hospitals so that we could get through as much as possible. We will continue to monitor this. We will catch up as quickly as we can, but we know we are going to have some constraints next financial year as well. We are implementing the digital health record right across our public health and hospital system next financial year, in the second half of this year. That is a massive, massive effort that is going to require some reduction in elective surgery at Canberra Hospital. We are working through how we make up for that and how we work with our private hospital partners around that.

I can assure Ms Lawder that when we committed to doing 60,000 elective surgeries over this four years we meant that and we will do everything in our power to achieve that target.

MS CASTLEY: Minister, will the number of patients who have had their surgery suspended or delayed this time be more than 1,500, like it was in 2020?

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