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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 12 Hansard (23 November) . . Page.. 3858..

Hospitals—waiting lists

MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Minister for Health. Minister, in the Assembly last week you referred to work that is being done in New South Wales to reduce the size of their hospital waiting lists. You said:

Look at the work that has been done in New South Wales. They are probably 18 months further down 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.

You also noted that members of the New South Wales surgical task force participate in the ACT waiting list task force. What has the ACT learnt from working with New South Wales that is relevant to the operation of the ACT's hospital system and to the management of waiting lists? What benefits have patients in the ACT received from this collaboration with New South Wales ?

MS GALLAGHER: Thank you, Mr Speaker. It is probably early days, as the access improvement program working through the surgical access task force started only about a fortnight ago. That was the first meeting of that task force which New South Wales attended. I guess the idea of having New South Wales at the table—and we are very pleased that they have agreed to cooperate with us—was to get their advice on how things worked for them when they commenced on this business redesign in relation to surgical services across New South Wales.

We had a presentation from them about the issues they addressed through the access improvement program. The access improvement program started not two weeks ago in surgical services. They have actually done that first bit of planning, having a look at what is going on, looking at quick solutions, or I think they are called quick fi—xmapping where the areas of pressure are, looking at what the delays are in surgery, the reasons behind the delays and ways to improve. That goes from looking at the role of wards people to the radiographers, to the way the theatres are being staffed, to the role the surgeon plays, to the pre-booking clinics and to the admissions processes. It looks at the whole thing.

It is pretty much the same as New South Wales. The challenge we have and where it will be different is that New South Wales have been able to allocate certain functions to each hospital, particularly across Sydney. They can quarantine some hospitals and say that this hospital will be doing this and this hospital will be doing that.

I guess some of the officers at the presentation acknowledged that, for the ACT, that is not an option. We have two public hospitals and one is the major trauma centre for the whole region. That makes it much more difficult to run elective surgery in the way they are running it in New South Wales now. I think the lesson learnt is that part of the puzzle is money, in terms of purchasing more elective surgery, and that part of it is the business processes.

As I said, the whole journey for a patient starts from the moment they get their letter in the mail saying that their surgery is on at a certain time to the moment they leave,

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