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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 10 Hansard (25 August) . . Page.. 4145..

MR PRATT (continuing):

Colin Andrews, a well respected local neurosurgeon said on the ABC news: "What they're trying to do is reduce the volume of neurosurgery to be done at the Canberra Hospital to make the waiting list figures look better." He suggests that this will reduce the attractiveness of Canberra as a location for specialist doctors to work in.

Minister, why are you writing to people on the neurosurgery waiting list living in New South Wales suggesting that they look elsewhere to make the waiting list look better and mask your gross inefficiency?

MR CORBELL: I thank Mr Pratt for the question. It is incorrect to claim that the government is trying to make the waiting list look better. At no stage is the government saying, "You cannot have your surgery undertaken at the Canberra Hospital. What the government is saying is that there is a waiting list for neurosurgery at the Canberra Hospital.

The reason for that is that there is an extremely limited number of neurosurgeons, and most of the work done by neurosurgeons is emergency cases. That is where the bulk of their work is occurring-because of the limited number of surgeons. Therefore, elective surgery takes a lower priority for those surgeons because of the demand for emergency surgery.

This is not about trying to fix the lists; it is about saying to people, "There are other hospitals where you can get your neurosurgery done more quickly, and you might like to consider that." We want to see people get their surgery done as quickly as possible-that is the objective. So people have been written to and advised of the lengthy waiting periods for elective procedures in neurosurgery, and they have been advised that in some cases in New South Wales there are hospitals that can undertake the surgery within three months, instead of the six, nine or 12 months that we have here and that, if they want to pursue that option, ACT Health can assist them get those arrangements in place.

That is what we have done. It is as simple as that. We have a very limited number of neurosurgeons, and the bulk of their work occurs in emergency procedures. That means that elective procedures are waiting a significant period to be carried out.

MR PRATT: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. Minister, are you writing to other patients living in New South Wales of other specialties of medicine suggesting that they look elsewhere and, if so, which waiting lists are you targeting?

MR CORBELL: Mr Speaker, I am not writing to anyone.

Aged persons accommodation

MRS CROSS: My question is to the Minister for Planning, Mr Corbell. This follows a question and your response yesterday regarding the role of the Australian Valuation Office in determining land valuations for aged care and supportive housing. In your response yesterday you stated that the amount of change of use charge is "a matter for ACTPLA and the government".

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