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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 16 March 2010) . . Page.. 860 ..

Questions without notice

Hospitals—waiting times

MR SESELJA: My question is to the Minister for Health. I refer to comments made by the Chief Minister on 5 March 2010 about waiting times. The Chief Minister said:

At the end of the day, these perhaps are the least relevant of all of the indicators of the way in which our health system’s operating.

He also appeared to suggest that complaints about waiting times were whinges. Were the Chief Minister’s comments consistent with the government’s position on waiting times?

MS GALLAGHER: The context in which those comments were made was about Mr Stanhope’s experience as a parent in the emergency department at the Canberra Hospital. I, too, as a parent, have spent some time in the emergency department at the Canberra Hospital where I have experienced a considerable wait. But that is part of the public health system that responds to demand. At times people will have to wait, and they have to wait because more urgent people are being seen ahead of them.

In terms of whether the waiting times are an accurate reflection of the performance of the health system, I completely support the comments of the Chief Minister. I have been in this place a number of times saying that the median waiting time for elective surgery, in isolation, cannot be seen as the best way of assessing the performance or the quality of your public health system.

Mr Hanson interjecting—

MS GALLAGHER: It is one measure, but there are many other measures—

Mr Hanson interjecting—

MR SPEAKER: Order, Mr Hanson!

MS GALLAGHER: and it is the only measure that the opposition focus on. They prefer not to focus on all of the measures which show we have a very good public health system—

Mr Hanson: Bed occupancy, access block!

MR SPEAKER: Mr Hanson!

MS GALLAGHER: an excellent public health system. Mr Hanson interjects with “bed occupancy”, for example. Bed occupancy, when we came to government, was not even measured because they were so embarrassed about it. It would have been running almost at 100 per cent.

Opposition members interjecting—

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