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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 06 Hansard (Wednesday, 23 June 2010) . . Page.. 2355 ..

MS GALLAGHER: Thank you, Mr Speaker. The conspiracy that the Liberals are trying to create does not exist. There is a process in place. There is an established process of audit for the waiting lists that is carried out quarterly by the surgical booking team. They work very closely with the surgeons. The surgical services task force works very closely with ACT Health to manage the list. Indeed, I have met with them recently to talk about better ways to manage the list, and there is a very high level of cooperation there. It is in their interests to manage their patients, just as it is for us to manage our theatre time, in the most effective and efficient way.

I would say that, whilst Mr Hanson will try and point the finger at me, I can honestly stand here and say that I have never asked for any patient to be downgraded or manipulated any list or done anything like that. The finger he is pointing is not at me; it is at the surgical booking team and it is at the surgeons themselves who you are implying are bullied into accepting, against their clinical judgment, different treatment pathways for their patients, and that is absolute rubbish. It just does not happen.

MR SESELJA (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (9.07): The minister is now seeking to argue effectively that black is white. We have got a situation where we have had allegations raised in the community. No, this person is not in the community, apparently—Mr Wentworth. Let me quote:

They said, “Oh you’re being downgraded,” Mr Wentworth told The Canberra Times.

“I asked why I wasn’t informed and the comment was that anyone who isn’t operated on in the 30 days, the hospital downgrades.

So we have got Mr Wentworth saying that he was told that they all get downgraded. Then we have Peter Hughes from the ACT Visiting Medical Officers Association saying that he believes that administrative staff in ACT Health have been shifting elective surgery patients to lower priority categories than the ones nominated by their doctors. So we have got these allegations that are made in the community, and ACT Health says, “No; there is nothing to them.”

Then we have the minister. She says, “Absolutely no evidence of downgrading elective surgery patients in line with the allegations by Dr Peter Hughes.” Then she is asked a question by Mr Doszpot. Let me quote:

MR DOSZPOT: Minister, have you been informed or have you investigated at any stage in the past whether this practice of downgrading patients has been occurring …

MS GALLAGHER: It has never, ever, as I can recall, been raised with me as a problem. I have certainly had a number of briefings with the department around the decisions …

And she goes on. Then Mr Hanson asks a question. Let me quote again:

MR HANSON: Minister, would you consider it appropriate or in accordance with policy that ACT Health would be contacting doctors to ask that they downgrade their patients?

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