Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 04 Hansard (Wednesday, 16 March 2005 2005) . . Page.. 1037 ..
We already have the most expensive health system in the country, even more expensive than the Northern Territory. That is a real achievement, when you look at the Northern Territory population, the degree of difficulty that some parts of that community presents and the enormous area that the Northern Territory covers.
Mr Speaker, the second part of the motion notes that the average number of additions per month to the elective surgery waiting list has reduced since 2001. So much for the claim of more activity! We find that the average number of patients added to the waiting list in the year 2000 was 932. In 2001, when this government takes over, it drops to 870. In 2002, it is 873. In 2003, it recovers slightly to 882. In 2004, it is up to 895 new patients added to the waiting list per month. If we do the sums, on average, under the previous Liberal government, 913 elective surgery patients were added to the waiting list each month. Under Labor, it is 878—35 fewer a month. The number of patients going on the list is fewer than it used to be under the Liberal government. So much for the claim of more throughput!
The minister’s excuse, until Monday, when it was suddenly New South Wales’ fault for the ever-increasing waiting list, has been that demand has been increasing. He has said consistently that demand is up. It is simply not true. You have heard the monthly averages. In the calendar year 2000, there were 8,562 additions to the waiting list. In the calendar year 2004, four years later, there are only 8,471 additions to the waiting list. In between times, it has dropped to as low as 7,755 in the year 2002, when the Labor health reforms commenced. These figures put the lie to the excuse. Demand has not increased. It has reduced over the last few years and it is only just beginning to now creep up to the 2000 levels.
Mr Speaker, the next part of the motion relates to the actual amounts of surgery that are being performed in the ACT. For as long as we have been hearing Mr Corbell complain about the fallacious increase in demand, we have also been hearing about how there are more surgery and more operations going on than ever before. It is another false claim. The patient activity data sets put the lie to that claim.
Let us start with Calvary Hospital. Page 3 of their patient activity data set tells us:
For the year to date—
that is, the 7 months to January 2005—
13 per cent less elective surgery has occurred at the Calvary Hospital.
As an interesting aside, endoscopy is also down, but only by 2 per cent. Mr Corbell says, “There is more surgery.” What does the data say, the official data from the hospital, say, at Calvary? It is 13 per cent less. Moving to the Calvary Hospital table one, “Hospital Summary—Patient Activity”, in the January 2005 figures, we see that, under section 5 “surgical operations”, the main theatre is down 4.9 per cent and endoscopies are down an astonishing 24 per cent. Because of anomalies there, they actually don’t reveal the elective surgery data. Perhaps the minister would like to get them to adjust their reporting. These are not specific figures to elective surgery. But if you look at the