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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 12 Hansard (19 November) . . Page.. 4314..

Public hospitals-elective surgery

MS MacDONALD: Mr Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Minister for Health, Mr Corbell. Minister, can you outline the impact of the government's $2 million investment in elective surgery in ACT public hospitals?

MR CORBELL: I thank Ms MacDonald for the question. This is an important question because the government is focussing very strongly on improving access to elective surgery in our public hospitals. As members would be aware, the government announced in the last budget that it has invested $2 million per annum for the next four years, $8 million in total over four years, extra to improve access to elective surgery in our public hospitals.

We have just witnessed in the past four months the busiest start for elective surgery in the ACT for a long time-2,939 people have accessed elective surgery in the first four months of this year. That is an increase of 17 per cent on the total for the first four months of 2002-03.

Mrs Dunne: That's because you closed Calvary down.

MR CORBELL: And, Mr Speaker, the interesting thing to note-

Mrs Dunne: Simple-last year Calvary was not operating.

MR CORBELL: Well, let us compare Labor's record with that of the Liberal Party for the equivalent period 2000-2001 when they were in power. We are still seeing 5 per cent more people getting access to elective surgery under this government than we saw under the previous government in their last year of office. So the bottom line is that the government is improving access to elective surgery.

The $2 million, of course, is our $2 million. We are paying for these services. We are not seeing, like the Liberals did, a reliance on Commonwealth payment. We are paying ourselves; we are making the investment as a community to improve access to elective surgery. More people are getting their surgery under Labor.

Mr Speaker, in September 2003 we saw the highest number of people admitted for elective surgery for any quarter in over three years, including the last year of the previous government-the highest number of people admitted in over three years for any quarter; the highest number of monthly admissions for elective surgery since November last year; and the highest number of people added to the elective surgery waiting list by their surgeons since July 2000. So we saw more people being added to the list, increased demand but also increased service-increased service because of the $2 million per annum the government is investing in relation to elective surgery.

Just last month we saw a 118 per cent increase in the number of procedures. Mr Smyth can taunt all he likes but the bottom line is that he knows that the government is investing and putting its money where its mouth is, and making sure that more Canberrans get access to elective surgery. Mr Smyth is the sort of shadow health minister

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