Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 9 Hansard (19 September) . . Page.. 2872..
MR PRATT (continuing):
you not aware of what is going on in your portfolio, nearly two years after becoming a minister?
MR HARGREAVES: The answer to the first question is no. The answer to the second question is that I am across my portfolio. Sadly, again, we have another pathetic question from Mr Pratt. He just demonstrated absolutely no knowledge of content at all. He asks: Mr Hargreaves, are you doing a good job? I have to confess to you, Mr Speaker, and to Mr Pratt that yes I am, thank you very much. Do I enjoy the confidence of my electorate? Yes I do, thank you very much. Do I know the content? Yes I do. Will I share it with you? No, I will not.
MRS DUNNE: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Minister for Health. Minister, in an interview on ABC radio on 12 September a surgeon at the Canberra Hospital said that doctors were being frustrated about the long waiting lists in ACT public hospitals. What are you doing to remove the influence described by this surgeon of "the 'faceless men' in the bureaucracy"who create inefficiencies in the delivery of health care?
MS GALLAGHER: I thank Mrs Dunne for the question. I did not actually hear the interview but I think I got the general theme of it. Coming to health in recent months, I have been going out visiting a number of places and having discussions with staff. I think there is sometimes frustration between doctors about the capacity to provide services. They are very much about their dealings with their patients. There seems to me to be a conflict from time to time—but not often—between what can be provided and what they want to provide.
The department is working very closely with the surgical specialists at the hospital on those issues and I think we have seen the improvements there. I note that in that interview I do not think the doctor acknowledged the extended opening times of the operating theatres or the commissioning of the additional or ninth operating theatre which has been put in place in recognition of concerns from surgeons about their capacity to deliver.
I think all of the measures I have spoken about in my discussion, or the question earlier from Mr Stefaniak about dealing with some of the patients on the waiting lists, will further clarify some of the concerns for doctors. As I said, I am setting up a number of meetings with doctors at the hospital in the next few weeks to talk with them about further areas where they believe improvements can be made.
As I said, we are delivering record amounts of surgery at the hospital in record time frames. More people than ever are having access to elective surgery. We are looking at further relationships with private providers. Where we cannot provide surgery in a timely fashion, we can work with private providers to support that. There is a range of things in place which I am happy to speak to that doctor about—and to other doctors at the hospital—to further improve that relationship.
I think there is an inherent conflict that exists from time to time. It is about doctors who work day to day with patients and see the need and the capacity of the health system to deal with the demand, and the emergencies that present to it every day, day on day. That