Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 11 Hansard (16 November) . . Page.. 3597..
MS GALLAGHER (continuing):
the path of the access improvement program than we are at the hospital. They are having fantastic results. In some hospitals they have got the waiting list down to zero.
In fact, the New South Wales surgical task force participates in the ACT task force as well so that we can learn from their experience. Many of the ideas that they have used in New South Wales have been around isolating particular hospitals for elective surgery. That is not something that we can do here in the ACT, so we have to look at a slightly different way of modelling our improved access for elective surgery. We cannot isolate our hospitals to the extent that is available in other jurisdictions.
Believe me, we are working hard on this. I want to see improvements in the list. I know that everyone on the list wants to see improvements on the list. We are improving our time frames for elective surgery in a number of categories. I have spoken about how we want to ensure that, for those long waits in categories 2 and 3, we are improving access for those people particularly and making sure that they do get their surgery on time. But the reality of being in a jurisdiction where you have a major trauma centre for the region, with two hospitals only that operate on any day that cannot be isolated for elective surgery, will present particular challenges not just for this government but for any government in the future in terms of increasing people's access to elective surgery and making sure that the list keeps coming down.
MR SESELJA: My question is to the Minister for Health. One of the important indicators of the performance of the public hospital system is the incidence of occasions on which emergency departments of the hospitals divert ambulances to another hospital, a practice known as bypass. Indeed, minister, in question time in this place on 19 September 2006 you told the Assembly that the amount of bypass during September, to that point, was only six hours. September, however, appears to have been an aberration. Minister, why did the Canberra Hospital have to go onto bypass for 49 hours during October this year, the highest level of bypass for at least two years?
MS GALLAGHER: Mr Seselja has stolen Mr Smyth's question. I have been waiting for it all week. You have been trying to keep me on my toes. Mr Seselja's question is wrong from the beginning when it says that one of the most important indicators of how any hospital is performing is the measure of bypasses, because it simply is not. No report done nationally or internationally uses bypass as a performance indicator of how well a hospital is travelling.
For the information of Mr Seselja, bypass comes into effect when the emergency department has got to the point where it is so busy that non-urgent patients coming to the hospital in an ambulance could be seen in a more clinically appropriate time frame at the other hospital and they are diverted there. For all urgent patients coming along in an ambulance and for all patients walking in off the streets or being brought in by family members, it makes no difference to them; the emergency department is there, but for one category of patients it means that they move to the other hospital. In this case it is a 15-minute trip across town to the Calvary Public Hospital.