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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 3 July 2008) . . Page.. 2707 ..

above the national average of 86 per cent. This information is further supported by the fact that in 2006-07 only six per cent of those admitted to ACT hospitals elected to use their private health insurance, against the national total of 10 per cent.

During 2006-07, our public hospitals delivered 9,306 elective surgery procedures, up from the 9,076 reported in the previous year. It is the fourth year in a row that we have achieved record levels of access to elective surgery. This record is continuing in 2007-08, with the current full year estimate of 9,600 elective surgery operations completed by 30 June 2008. The number of people admitted for surgery in the ACT who waited longer than one year was 9.9 per cent, compared to the national figure of 3.1 per cent, again further showing that our strategy of removing long waits from the list continues to deliver for those people who are on the list and waiting too long.

Over the first 10 months of this financial year, 2,648 people out of 7,847 people who received elective surgery had been waiting longer than the standard time frame. This continued commitment to eliminate waiting lists longer than one year over the next few years will mean that our reported median time for elective surgery will remain high for some years to come.

Despite these continued efforts by the government, demand for elective surgery continues to grow significantly. In 2006-07, there were 11,186 people added to the ACT public hospital elective surgery waiting list—a 5.2 per cent growth over the 10,630 added to the list in 2005-06.

The report notes that the median waiting times for service delivery in emergency departments are higher in the ACT than elsewhere. However, the median time for actual treatment in the emergency department was either the best or amongst the best for each category. The additional bed capacity funded by this government will improve patient flows around the hospital. Over recent years, we have increased staffing in our emergency departments as well as establishing new services. In the 2008-09 budget, we announced the development of a new surgical assessment and planning unit which will provide our emergency department with a new service that will provide for quick transfer of patients awaiting surgery, further decreasing the pressures on the emergency department.

In short, coupled with our quarterly performance report, this national report demonstrates our continued investment in the health system is delivering results.

MR SPEAKER: Is there a supplementary question?

MS MacDONALD: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Why has the government taken the decision to be so transparent in reporting health data?

MS GALLAGHER: The primary reason is to ensure that our community has an accurate picture of our health system. In that way, progress can be measured and our community can have an accurate picture of where our system is improving. But we must always strive for new levels of transparency because, even with the best reporting in the country, mistakes can still be made. People can still, either accidentally or on purpose, make public statements which misinterpret key health statistics and call into question the quality of our public health system.

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