Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 06 Hansard (Wednesday, 23 June 2010) . . Page.. 2336 ..
She said in this place that this is only ever done, essentially, if there is a change in the clinical assessment by the doctor; so obviously the patient is getting better. That is not what is being alleged by the doctor and that is not what is being alleged by the patient. Quite clearly, the community has lost faith in this minister’s ability to manage the list.
Mr Speaker, I refer you to two polls that have been conducted in the Canberra Times in this last month. They polled a significant number of people—706 in one poll and 603 in the other. The questions include: “Do you think the ACT government is doing enough to reduce waiting times for elective surgery?” and 86 per cent say no. In the other poll, that figure is 86.4 per cent saying no.
So the community has quite clearly lost confidence in Katy Gallagher’s ability to manage these lists. Not only are they concerned now that they are going to wait an inordinate amount of time, but there is real concern by the patients and by medical practitioners that those lists are being somehow manipulated or that the data is being made to look better than is the reality.
I call on the minister to provide to the Assembly by the close of business on 24 June the number of elective surgery patients in the ACT in the last 24 months that have been downgraded from urgent category 1 to a lower category. She said that this has only happened for clinical reasons, that she is not aware of any cases. So I am sure she will provide that data very easily. We do not need names; we just need to know how many.
For those people for whom she provides names, I want to know how long they have been on that category 1 list when they were downgraded. I also call on the minister to provide for each case where a patient was downgraded an explanation of why they were downgraded. Why is it that those patients were downgraded? Was it because their condition improved or was there another reason? Was the reason, I would ask, they could not be operated on within 30 days? If that is the only reason that is given by the minister—it is simply because they have not been operated on within 30 days—I would contend that there is a real case that she has misled the Assembly and she has without question misled and lied to the community. That is absolutely irrefutable.
We only need one case. If we have one case where someone has been downgraded because their time frame was going to exceed the 30 days, and that is why they are downgraded—not because their condition improved—then you have a clear case of this minister and her department seeking to change the numbers and the statistics to make it look better.
Did David’s condition suddenly improve? I very much doubt it. I have also called on the minister to provide for each case where a patient was downgraded an explanation of who initiated the decision or the request to downgrade the patient, that being either the patient’s doctor or an ACT Health official.
If the doctor went to ACT Health and said, “Okay, this patient is getting better; I am going to downgrade him from category 1 to category 2,” that is a very different