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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 01 Hansard (Wednesday, 10 February 2010) . . Page.. 159 ..

quite rightly. The processes for patient safety held up. Some remedial work was done. Those theatres are available for use now. I think one is in use now. With the one that is going to be used as a cardiac theatre, one of the cardiologists has requested that some extra cabling be put in prior to that theatre being used for cardiac surgery, but it is available for other types of surgery if required.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Seselja, a supplementary question?

MR SESELJA: Minister, how many elective surgery operations have not been conducted as a result of the delays in opening the theatres?

MS GALLAGHER: There has not been any elective surgery not being done. The elective surgery program—

Mr Seselja: How many would have been done if they were opened in October?

MS GALLAGHER: I know it is the Liberals’ policy—and it is going to be excellent to see when it comes out in the election just how you are going to cost this—that you run every theatre 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and nobody gets a break. We have already heard Mr Hanson on the record about that.

But we fund our elective surgery program. It is funded for approximately 9,700 operations. All of those operations will be performed. That is what the budget funds. We do not have an open-ended budget that just says, “There is an operating theatre there. Go and fill it with patients.” That is not the way the program runs. No elective surgery procedures have been cancelled due to lack of theatre space.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Hanson, a supplementary question?

MR HANSON: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Minister, will you apologise to the community for misleading them about the opening of these operating theatres?

MS GALLAGHER: I will not apologise to the community around ensuring that the facilities in our public hospital system are safe. I think what Mr Hanson is trying to put to me is that there should have been no change of plans, even though there were problems identified with the operating theatres, and that we should have just pressed ahead. At that time, when I was asked, it was the intention to have those theatres operational in October. I should say that it has not reduced the amount of elective surgery that has been able to be performed in the hospital. What it was going to allow was extra flexibility for timetabling of particular operations. It will help us manage the emergency work that comes in.

When the emergency work disrupts the elective work that is where we have challenges. Five of our 10 original theatres were used every day for emergency work. When you increase the number of your operating theatres by two that means there are extra flexibilities to ensure that your elective work gets done. I am absolutely confident that the processes in place have allowed what we need to provide in our theatres, which is a safe environment both for surgeons and their staff and patients. To have done anything differently would have been negligent.

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