Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 03 Hansard (Wednesday, 17 March 2010) . . Page.. 950 ..
attempt to actually understand the issues. Indeed, Mr Hanson I do not think has listened to a word I have said in the last 10 minutes. There is definitely no attempt at the development of policy, and there is no acknowledgement of when a service is running well. Indeed, if he had listened to the last 10 minutes of my speech and the statistics that have been delivered out of this unit in terms of meeting and improving waiting times—which are all about patients getting access to their treatment—he would have to acknowledge that the investments that have been made by this government, the staff that have been employed by this government, have actually delivered improvements in access to care.
That does not mean that there will not be times when pressure is in place. At those times the clinicians look for the best alternative solution. At times, that will require people to travel interstate. As I said, I have a number of times had to travel interstate for access to health treatment in cancer services for both of my parents, and the issue is that you actually get access to the treatment in the time that you need.
No government will be able to stand here and say that no patient will ever travel interstate for service, because that might not be the best clinical outcome and it might be impossible. Despite all the best efforts and all the investment and all the services here, we are part of a national network of hospitals and health systems that rely on each other to deliver services to all citizens regardless of the jurisdictions they live in.
The government will not be supporting Mr Hanson’s motion. Just in closing, I acknowledge that Ms Bresnan is moving an amendment to Mr Hanson’s motion, and the government will support the amendment. There are elements of the language in it which I think are unfortunate and patronising, to be honest, but I am happy to support the amendment as I believe a report back to the Assembly along those lines will provide members with additional information.
MS BRESNAN (Brindabella) (10.42): The Greens thank Mr Hanson for bringing on this motion today. I know the opposition may be surprised by my saying that. We agree that this has been an unacceptable situation. We will be making a number of amendments that represent the feedback the Greens have received from consumer organisations. We have consulted with groups in developing the amendments today. In addressing this motion, firstly, I wish to recognise the significant physical and emotional stress a person goes through when they receive treatment for cancer and, of course, what their family and friends must experience in supporting that person through the journey. I have also had personal experience with this and understand what it is that people go through.
The Greens are aware that the government outlays considerable expenditure in providing cancer treatment services locally, and it is only in recent times that the government has been able to come close to providing treatment to almost all patients. There must have been great relief amongst local cancer sufferers when we reached the point where they thought they would no longer have to face the prospect of going to Sydney for treatment. It is obviously recognised that there are some cancers where people do have to travel to receive treatment because of the speciality of the treatment.
The resignation earlier this year of six radiotherapists from the Canberra Hospital radiation oncology unit caused great distress amongst those patients who were trying