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MS FOLLETT: I have a supplementary question, Mr Speaker, and I think it makes clear why I am so concerned about the terms of reference. I wanted to know from Mrs Carnell whether Dr Newcombe had been correct when he said that this so-called audit of hospital beds - I presume that the audit was a part of the terms of reference - which led to the conclusion that we have 20 per cent too many beds, so letting you off the hook on one of your election promises, was conducted on a single day, that day being the first day of the school holidays when leave arrangements and illness created a very misleading impression of operating theatre efficiency and of bed usage. Was Dr Newcombe correct about that?

MRS CARNELL: As Ms Follett would be aware, the efficiency audit was done on 4 July. I have spoken to Dr Newcombe since then and, as Ms Follett would be aware, as is often the case, he was quoted somewhat out of context. I think it is important to run through what the audit on 4 July showed. It showed that on that day there were 88 patients - 20 per cent of the total inpatients - who did not require acute hospital care at that time. Those people were waiting for a number of reasons. I think some 20 per cent or 19 per cent of the 88 were awaiting placement in nursing homes or hostels. One would have a lot of trouble seeing how that had anything to do with school holidays. There were also people who were receiving treatment that they could have been given as an outpatient or day patient. Again, it is very difficult to determine how that could have had anything to do with school holidays. That was 17 per cent of the total who could have been dealt with as outpatients. Another 3 per cent of those people could have been same day patients. There were people waiting for a medical consultation. That was 16 per cent who were just waiting in a bed for a doctor to come along. We simply have to change that.

There were 13 per cent who were ready to go home, but unfortunately they had not been discharged simply because our discharge system does not work as well as it should. Fascinatingly, only 30 per cent of patients at Woden Valley Hospital are discharged between 6.00 am and 12 noon. You need to discharge people between 6.00 am and 12 noon if you are going to ensure that that bed can be used properly the next day and, therefore, you can have more patients in your system. Therefore, you can use your beds more efficiently, which is exactly what they were talking about here. There were 13 per cent of patients who were ready to go home but simply had not been discharged. The people Dr Newcombe was talking about, people who were waiting for theatre time, were 7 per cent of the total.

Accrual Accounting

MR MOORE: Mr Speaker, my question is to Mrs Carnell as Chief Minister. I gave some notice that I would be asking a question of this nature. Will the Chief Minister concede that an open budget system would be greatly enhanced with a system of accrual accounting? Will she inform the Assembly of exactly when all ACT budget programs will be presented using the accrual accounting system?

MRS CARNELL: Accrual accounting will, of course, lead to a much more open government system. Members will see later on today - I suppose that they have already, on an embargoed basis - the change in the way this particular budget is formatted.

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