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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 02 Hansard (Thursday, 11 February 2021) . . Page.. 459 ..


MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Mrs Jones for the question. The first response is, as the president or past president—I am not sure—of the ACT AMA, Antonio Di Dio, indicated, “Please do not try this at home.” It is not a safe practice to perform surgery on yourself. If your condition is causing more disruption to your work or your life, please return to your GP and get re-referred if your condition is worsening. That is the advice that we provide to anybody who is on the waiting list. Without the specific details in relation to what this individual was waiting for, it is hard to provide a response, and obviously I would not be commenting on individual matters anyway.

More broadly, it does point to the fact that this appeared to be, potentially, a relatively straightforward procedure that could have been done outside the hospital system. One of the things that we are working with the Capital Health Network on is improving referrals between GPs, from one GP to another, where they have the capacity to do a different type of work, whether that is in a particular area of specialisation or whether that is in terms of performing more surgical procedures than their own GP possibly could do.

Another thing we have committed to through the election campaign is establishing a north-side elective surgery centre so that things that can be done in day surgery, where you do not need to be admitted to hospital overnight, can be done in a clearer and more timely fashion that will not be disrupted by the advent of an emergency surgery that might push back an elective procedure. So there are a range of things that we have underway to address some of those issues.

MRS JONES: Minister, is more than two years an acceptable wait for this kind of surgery, and can you understand why this man took matters into his own hands?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I do understand that it can be extremely frustrating for people who are waiting for elective surgery. But the ACT system, like all health systems across the country, has a triage process when it comes to elective surgery prioritisation and, indeed, outpatients prioritisation. One of the questions here is whether this individual was in fact waiting for elective surgery or whether he was waiting for an outpatients appointment. That, in the story, is not very clear. There is a lack of clarity in relation to this individual matter. But I certainly understand that it is extremely frustrating for people when they are waiting, whether it is for outpatients or for elective surgery. We do not want to see that. But it is the reality of a public health system that there will always be some people who are waiting. That is the case not only here in the ACT but also across the country and around the world.

MR HANSON: Minister, will your nine-month deadline to fix hospital wait times include fixing elective surgery waiting times?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Mr Hanson for the question. We have actually had great success in growing our elective surgery numbers over the last few years. Over the last five years, pre-COVID-19 the ACT had been growing elective surgery numbers at twice the national average rate. We have seen our seen-on-time numbers improving, particularly for category 2 elective surgeries, over that period. Over the decade they improved from about 44 per cent of category 2 patients seen on time to


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