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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 06 Hansard (Thursday, 24 June 2010) . . Page.. 2433 ..

Hospitals—waiting times

MR COE: My question is to the Minister for Health. Minister, on Tuesday you were asked by Mr Hanson about claims by Dr Peter Hughes, the president of the visiting medical officers, that patients were downgraded if they were not able to be seen on time. You answered:

There is absolutely no evidence of downgrading of elective surgery patients in line with the allegations made by Dr Peter Hughes.

Yet, despite this, a letter from your department says:

If you accept this date, please re-categorise this patient as a ‘2a Staged Procedure’.

How do you reconcile these two contradictory statements?

MS GALLAGHER: I have answered that repeatedly today, Mr Speaker.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Coe, a supplementary question?

MR COE: Yes, Mr Speaker. Minister, do you stand by your claims that there is absolutely no evidence of downgrading of elective surgery patients? If not, will you correct the record now?

MS GALLAGHER: Certainly, there is no evidence of ACT Health approaching doctors and asking them to downgrade their patients for the convenience of the hospital, which were the questions that were being put to me by the opposition on Tuesday. In accordance with the waiting list policy, there is a process for the audit of lists and if clinicians deem it appropriate that someone can wait—and, you know, people get upgraded as well under this audit of lists. Some people who fall outside of their 30-day category 1 timetable and their clinicians agree that they can wait longer for surgery—it might be 60 days—then they can be categorised as a 2a.

Similarly, someone who is categorised as a category 3 can be re-categorised as a category 1. That is what happens all the time, every day, in managing the waiting lists across the hospitals.

MR SPEAKER: A supplementary, Mr Hanson?

MR HANSON: Yes, Mr Speaker. Minister, why do you stand by your claims given all of the evidence that has come to light?

MS GALLAGHER: There is not any evidence, Mr Speaker. All of my comments—based on the advice that I have, the documents that I have tabled—are correct.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Hanson, a supplementary?

MR HANSON: What inquiries have you made subsequent to question time on Tuesday regarding elective surgery waiting lists, and what was the outcome of those inquiries?

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