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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 02 Hansard (Wednesday, 24 February 2010) . . Page.. 595 ..


… the ACT health system performs very well against a whole range of measures.

Minister, is having the worst elective surgery rate in the country, the longest wait times in the emergency department and the worst bulk-billing rate in the country performing well? If not, which measures were you referring to?

MS GALLAGHER: Mr Smyth’s question is wrong. We do not have the worst elective surgery rate in the country. The median waiting time, if that is what you are referring to, in the latest ROGS data is 73 days. But that is measuring the time that a person has been removed from the list. That is not the worst elective surgery rate.

Mr Seselja: It is the longest wait.

MS GALLAGHER: The question is wrong. We do not have the worst elective surgery rate.

Mr Smyth: Oh, the question is wrong!

MS GALLAGHER: We do not, Mr Smyth. Whoever is drafting your questions just needs to lift their game a bit. If they would like to say—

Mr Stanhope: Stop being so lazy. Do your homework.

MS GALLAGHER: We have a long and established program of removing long waits from our elective surgery list, Mr Speaker. I could improve the elective surgery median waiting time tomorrow if I decided not to remove anyone who had been waiting for longer than a year for surgery. If I put out a direction that said the only elective surgery that is to be performed in the territory is on patients who have recently joined the list, that measure would improve out of sight.

But is that good public policy? No, it is not; so it is not a decision I take. We are improving our scores against that indicator. If Mr Smyth is looking for areas where the government does well in reports on government services—the ROGS data—I think you will know that the ACT is the healthiest community in the country, and for that we should be extremely proud.

If you look at our expenditure, that has come down 24 per cent while running an efficient health system. It has improved by 24 per cent since you were in government, Mr Smyth. We have finally reached the national average for beds for our population after 114 of them were ripped out under the previous government.

Yes, it takes time to improve a health system, but our health system is improving against all the indicators. Our health system is improving and will continue to improve because of the investments that we have made and the work that has been done by the staff across the Canberra Hospital and Calvary.

In relation to bulk-billing rates, this is really just a silly, petty campaign by the Liberals to try to imply that the ACT government can improve bulk-billing rates. To


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