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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 7 Hansard (29 June) . . Page.. 2867..

Questions without notice

Hospital waiting lists

MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Acting Minister for Health, Mr Wood-surprise, surprise! Minister, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare published the Australian Hospital Statistics 2002-03 on 28 June. These statistics showed that during that year the median waiting time for elective surgery was 48 days; the national average was 28 days; and the ACT had the worst median waiting time of any state or territory. Worse, the median waiting time had blown out from 40 days from the previous year, meaning that in the first full year of the Labor government, the median waiting time increased by over a week. This shows that Labor's hospital management has been a total and utter failure.

Why did the ACT have the worst performance of any state or territory for elective surgery through the year 2002-03?

MR WOOD: Mr Speaker, there were quite a number of positives in that AIHW report, and I might come back to those later in question time. I think the health response to surgery has been remarkable. The fact is that there have been more operations carried out in the period than before. In the 2003-04 budget the government put additional money into surgery. Off the top of my head, I would think-

Mr Smyth: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I didn't ask about the 2003-04 budget; I asked about the results of the 2002-03 budget. I would ask you to get the minister to confine his answer to the point of the question.

MR SPEAKER: Yes, Minister, come to the point of the question.

MR WOOD: Mr Speaker, the fact is that, in all the years of the life of this government, this government, with the assistance of the Commonwealth on one occasion, has put extra money into surgery. That extra money in all years has seen an increase in the level of surgery being carried out. It is also the case that, at various times, for a number of reasons, including the ageing of the ACT's population, the demand increases considerably. I think that this government and Mr Corbell have performed exceptionally well in managing that demand; in putting more and more people through the operating theatres; in adjusting the systems-more money, better processes-and I think the system is working well.

It is the case that it is difficult in this system, as in any other system, to keep up with the very heavy demands of people for surgery.

MR SMYTH: Minister, why did the waiting time for elective surgery blow out by 20 per cent during the financial year 2002-03?

MR WOOD: Mr Speaker, I think I have explained that. Despite the fact that there was a considerable increase in the amount of surgery being done, the demands were also very heavy.

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