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Mr Connolly: That is not what you used to say, Mrs Carnell. I am pleased to hear it.
MRS CARNELL: I do not think it is acceptable either, Mr Connolly. I know that a number of people have left the ACT to go to New South Wales. Somebody that I know very well was forced into that position not terribly long ago. It is something that I do not consider to be acceptable. By the way, when that person had to go to New South Wales, it was under the previous Government. We will be doing everything in our power to overcome that problem, because it is simply not acceptable.
MR MOORE: I have a supplementary question, Mr Speaker. Chief Minister, you indicated that the average waiting time for non-urgent cases was three to four weeks. Can you indicate what is the longest waiting time that people are currently subjected to? My understanding is that it can be much longer than that. With regard to waiting lists in general, I note that the Premier of New South Wales has said that, if he cannot get his waiting lists down, he along with his Minister for Health will actually resign. Do you have the same courage?
MRS CARNELL: We have actually undertaken as part of our election commitment to reduce waiting lists by 20 per cent over the next three years. That is a reduction of 300 each year. It is absolutely essential that that occur. We currently have 4,557 people waiting for elective surgery in the ACT. That is an increase from, I think, 1,778 when the previous Government came to power. That is an enormous increase. Not only are there substantially more people on the waiting list, but people are actually waiting for longer. Three years ago, 34 per cent of people were waiting for longer than six months. In the last figures that were available, that had gone up to 51 per cent of people waiting for longer than six months. Obviously, waiting times are simply not acceptable. I will take the first part of your question on notice because I simply do not know what is the longest time anyone has ever waited for radiotherapy; but, as I said, I do not believe that three to four weeks is acceptable for somebody who has been diagnosed as needing radiotherapy.
Visiting Medical Officers - Contracts
MR CONNOLLY: My question is to Mrs Carnell as Health Minister. Can the Minister provide the Assembly with a breakdown by specialty of fee-for-service versus sessional contracts under the pre-existing arrangements in the hospital system and under what is expected after her so-called settlement? In other words, how many doctors will actually change their arrangements from fee-for-service to sessional contracts?
MRS CARNELL: I will be very happy to provide that to Mr Connolly when the doctors have actually signed the contracts. We believe that that will be in the next two weeks. As Mr Connolly would know, the new contracts come into effect on 1 June this year. So, it is only three weeks before we need everyone to have signed. We believe that that will occur in the next two weeks. We believe that we will get them all back.