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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 04 Hansard (Thursday, 22 April 2021) . . Page.. 1095 ..

that make her body unhappy, but with no clear knowledge of exactly when that procedure will occur.

I also note that, although we have discussed the median wait times, that is cold comfort to somebody who has been waiting for years. There are no guarantees in this business. If somebody is categorised as a three, that does not mean something will not happen in the meantime. That is one of the reasons that I think it is so important that we focus on this.

I do not accept the assertion that I had no idea there was a problem in this area until it became a media article. We certainly did.

Ms Stephen-Smith interjecting

MRS JONES: I had no idea it was that bad. I assumed it was bad, because we have a problem with our elective surgery wait times. It is not just that we have a problem; we have a problem relative to other hospital systems in Australia. We have worse outcomes in certain areas—in quite a few areas.

It is all very well and good to say, “People are taking the national bowel screening test and therefore there are a whole lot more people being put on the list.” But that is exactly what the system is meant to do. That is the system working. Don’t we plan for these things? Don’t we know that there is a national bowel screening project on board? I know it is on board and I am not an expert on everything to do with health. But I have seen the ads, and I have relatives that have taken the test. I know that it is a big community push. Therefore why do we wait until after we have a massive backlog to put the intense effort in to address what we probably could have known was coming?

We have also demonstrated during this debate that we can do more. The effects of COVID and the additional investment that was made show that we can use the private system to do public procedures. One of the great things about the COVID response has been all of the hospitals in Canberra working together. I know people who have had procedures through this additional effort in the private sector, not just in gastroscopy or endoscopy but in other areas too. They reported really good services in the private system, and even in the public hospital, on the Calvary campus on the north side.

I am really glad to hear that there is a plan for more investment. I just want to raise this and get the minister and the department thinking intensively about this particular concern. I was shocked when I read it because, while I know there is a problem across elective surgery, I was amazed by the exact volume.

Conditions deteriorate; people do not necessarily pick up on that. If you are in pain, or if you are in a lot of pain, sometimes it is a bit hard to measure, to be honest. I lived through most of my childhood in pain from a burning stomach. I did not even realise; I was just stressed. It is probably one of the reasons I sometimes still get stressed today. After my endoscopy I learned to live a bit differently, I take medications for

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