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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 01 Hansard (Wednesday, 16 February 2011) . . Page.. 138 ..

Mr Seselja also said that there was a cover-up in the elective surgery downgrades which were appearing inappropriately. The evidence that he uses to back this up is that 97.1 per cent of category 1 downgrades did not have documented clinical reasons to back up this change. What Mr Seselja did not include in his comments was that it appears that some surgeons may be acting inappropriately in that they are downgrading patients without having clinical reasons. This may be around holding on to patients over the time limit, so they are acting not totally in the interests of patients in general.

The other thing that we should take note of in this debate is that it has all been about the hospital system. The hospital system is only part of the health system. It would be really good if Mr Hanson, and the Liberal Party in general, showed as much interest in the other parts of the health system as the hospital system—rehabilitation services, dental care, mental health, aged-care services, falls clinics, amputees, counselling et cetera—and the wider preventative issues.

I was just reading at random this week’s City Chronicle. The article on page 2 under the headline “Heart disease risk increases in students” talks about students being overweight or obese. They are not having enough fruit and vegetables. They are not having enough exercise and their diet is not as good as it could be. These are issues that we should be talking about in the Assembly for the good of the health of Canberra.

As you all know, I have talked a lot about active transport in my time in the Assembly, not just because it is good from a planning point of view and for peak oil. It is good from all those points of view, but it is also really good from a health point of view. If we can have the people of Canberra having healthy, enjoyable, time-efficient exercise, which is another description of active transport, we will be happier, we will be weller and fewer of us will be going to hospital. I think we can all agree that fewer of us needing to go to hospital is an outcome we would all like to see.

I would also point out that health professionals and groups across the country, and in fact internationally, all agree that the current measures for assessing provision of services tell us little about what the services do. Waiting lists or emergency department waiting times do not tell us a lot about outcomes. They do not tell us much about whether there is public benefit from the services, whether people get better or whether people were in this part of the system inappropriately.

The Australian Health Care Reform Alliance has recently spoken about these issues in response to the federal health-related reforms. I note that in the United Kingdom they are getting rid of their previous requirement, which was that all emergency service patients be admitted or dealt with within four hours, because it simply did not help them.

In conclusion, I would like to say that the Greens are focused on getting the best health outcomes for the people of the ACT. Getting a good hospital system is part of that. Getting a good health system, getting a good planning system, getting a good transport system—they are all part of it. We, and I am sure all of the ACT, would like to see better outcomes, but this motion is not the way to achieve that.

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