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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 11 Hansard (Tuesday, 9 November 2021) . . Page.. 3141 ..

ACT Health—elective surgery

MS CASTLEY: My question is to the Minister for Health. The AMA's report card on public hospitals released last week shows that since 2003 the ACT has performed worst or near the worst in the nation on category 2 elective surgery patients being admitted for procedures within the recommended 90-day time frame. Having started to climb closer to the national average in 2016, why has our performance on this measure plunged since then?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I will have to take that question on notice and check back on the data that Ms Castley has used as the comparator in relation to 2016. As I previously indicated in response to my earlier question, the government has made significant investments in elective surgery and has been growing elective surgery much faster than the national rate of growth in elective surgery over at least the last three if not four years.

Obviously if we are seeing increased demand for elective surgery alongside that increased growth that may have something to do with the 2016 comparator, but I will take the detail of that question on notice and have a look at that comparison and just check that the Liberals have actually got that right.

MS CASTLEY: Minister, why can the ACT not perform at or above average for an Australian jurisdiction in category 2 elective surgery wait times?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: As I have already indicated to those opposite, we have made significant investments in our elective surgery. One of the focuses of those has been to get those category 2 times up. Again, I will take the detail of that question on notice to provide some more information to Ms Castley about exactly what the investments in category 2 elective surgery numbers have looked like over the last few years.

I note that the data the AMA has reported on is data from 2019-20, so it does not include the data from the last financial year. I think it will be really important in coming back to Ms Castley to provide some updated data in relation to these elective surgery numbers in particular, given the significant investments we have made in elective surgery and some of the other things we have done to address those waiting lists.

MR PARTON: Minister, what changes have you brought since becoming minister in 2019 specifically to bring the wait times to or above the national average, and why have you failed to achieve that?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: As I have previously indicated—and I refer Mr Parton to my previous answer in terms of the number of elective surgeries that have been conducted over the last few years—we have been growing elective surgery year on year. The only year in which we have not achieved that upward trajectory, of course, was 2019-20 when non-urgent categories 2 and 3 elective surgeries needed to be put on hold for a period in response to COVID-19. But, of course, we then invested

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