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MRS CARNELL: Thank you very much for the question, Mr Moore. The total waiting lists for each month since March have been: In March, 4,557; in April, 4,606; then down to 4,547 and down again to 4,485. Although that does show a reduction over the last three months, we are certainly not sitting on our hands on this. We have some very real problems in these waiting lists, particularly in the area of orthopaedic surgery, where there is no doubt that waiting lists are continuing to increase. I think orthopaedic, urology and general surgery are the three areas that we have a problem with.
Unlike the previous Government, under whom waiting lists went up from 1,789 to 4,500 in three years, we are planning - - -
Mr De Domenico: Who was the Minister?
MRS CARNELL: Both Mr Berry and Mr Connolly managed to do absolutely nothing about waiting lists, except take them from 1,780 up to 4,500. Over the last three months they have decreased somewhat.
Mr Berry: By how much?
MRS CARNELL: From 4,606 to 4,547 to 4,485. As I said, we are not sitting on our hands. What we are doing to address this problem, and you will see some of this approach in the budget, is that the agreements that we will do with the hospitals in this year will ask the hospitals to do extra admissions in the particular areas that have the longest waiting lists.
The previous Government just had agreements to do a certain number of admissions, and it did not really matter where. A lot of them ended up being in day surgery, so we saw the blow-out in elective surgery occur. It was a dramatic blow-out over the three-year term. We are looking at having extra admissions in the areas where they are needed. Those areas are particularly orthopaedic surgery, urology and general surgery because it is in those areas that we see people waiting for unacceptably long periods - 12 months plus. So yes, there will be extra admissions; but they will be targeted this time to the areas of most need, unlike under the previous Government.
MR MOORE: I ask a supplementary question, Mr Speaker. I was referring to Table 6, which is the waiting list for elective surgery. The numbers there show that in December 1994 the figure was 3,424 - - -
Mrs Carnell: That is just Woden?
MR MOORE: Just in Woden - and in May 1995, 3,428. I will say that in January and February it was a little bit higher than that; so it went up and then came back down to the same level. Chief Minister, is it good enough, as far as you are concerned, that someone who is waiting for a cartilage operation on their knee - a young person whose mobility is severely restricted - should have to wait 18 months? In the initial instance, the same person was told that there was a three-month waiting time, that was extended to six months, and now it is 18 months. All of that has happened since you have been Minister for Health.