Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 01 Hansard (Tuesday, 2 May 1995) . . Page.. 49 ..
waiting for more than six months for surgery. That is the cooperative approach we now have, which the previous Government could never even hope to achieve. The best that Mr Connolly and Mr Berry managed to achieve was a stoppage that caused a blow-out in the waiting list of very close to 1,000 people.
MR WHITECROSS: I have a supplementary question. Mr Speaker, Mrs Carnell has talked to us about waiting lists and about what the Labor Party might have achieved if it had been in government. But I refer Mrs Carnell back to the commitment she made to the people of Canberra in the election campaign, that she would implement the Andersen report, and I refer her to the savings that she claimed. I ask again: In the light of her failure to achieve the savings which she said in the election campaign she would achieve and which were part of her budget that she took to the people of Canberra, how many public sector jobs is she going to have to cut to make up the shortfall?
MRS CARNELL: I am absolutely confident that we did not make a commitment to implement the Andersen report in seven weeks. As I am sure you would be aware, the Andersen report actually suggested that we should implement casemix funding - something that the previous Government just refused to accept - and that the overspending in ACT Health was somewhere between $26m and $32m. A large amount of that, of course, is in administration, as you would be aware. Some of that is certainly in VMOs; but you would also be aware that VMOs' salaries make up only 11 per cent of the total hospital budget. So, you are actually talking about only a very small amount. That does not make it acceptable. We have said quite categorically that the VMOs are the first cab off the rank in savings right across the board in health. We have undertaken at the end of three years to have implemented Andersen, unlike Mr Connolly, who tabled it and then did absolutely nothing, which is the reason - - -
Mr Connolly: Nonsense! You know that to be untrue.
MRS CARNELL: No; I know that it is the truth, Mr Connolly, because now we are in a position of having to go out and find experts in the health arena to implement a report, which is a good report, that Mr Connolly did nothing with. So, what we have is an ongoing commitment to implement Andersen. At the end of three years, as we said in our election commitments, we believe that we will have implemented Andersen. That requires savings; it requires casemix funding being put in place; it means savings of between $26m and $32m; it means substantial changes in the way we structure our hospital system; it means substantial savings right across the board. The first cab off the rank, and not the only cab off the rank, is the VMOs. We have $2m worth of savings up front there and ongoing savings in areas such as better utilisation of theatres, more efficient work practices, better bed management techniques and better discharge techniques. All of those things have been built into these VMO negotiations because that - - -
Mr Connolly: That is on top of the trimming, is it?
MRS CARNELL: Yes. That is the sensible approach to these sorts of negotiations. What we need is a situation in three years’ time where we do not have 51.3 per cent of people waiting for longer than six months for essential surgery, where we do not have one of the worst waiting lists per capita in Australia, where we do not have the most expensive hospital system in Australia with the fewest beds.