Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 7 Hansard (24 September) . . Page.. 2170 ..
MR MOORE (continuing):
In addition, at my request, the chief executive officer of the Department of Health has written to the private hospitals in town and said that we are prepared to purchase services from the private hospitals if they will deal with pensioners - we have been quite specific about pensioners - on our waiting lists. If those private hospitals are prepared to provide hospital surgical services to those patients, we will purchase those services from them.
We have put into place a series of strategies that I hope will have a significant impact on waiting times as well as waiting lists. Finally, I remind you that it is good to draw a comparison between what the waiting lists are at the moment and what they were under the Labor Government.
MR STANHOPE: Mr Speaker, I ask a supplementary question. Can the Minister advise the Assembly what impact his failure to ensure that Canberra Hospital is adequately staffed has had on waiting lists?
MR MOORE: That is hypothetical, Mr Speaker.
MR SPEAKER: It asks for an expression of opinion too, Mr Moore.
MR MOORE: I have just indicated to Mr Stanhope the actions that we are taking to deal with these issues. The staffing issue is much more about managing the resources that we have and ensuring that we have the right people in the right places at the right time. It requires a more flexible way of doing things. The hospital management, as a compromise to nurses, offered to close 17 beds temporarily in the interests of a more efficient system. That may mean the consolidation of some wards in order to make sure that where nurses are working they can work in a more efficient manner.
MR QUINLAN: Mr Speaker, my question is also to the Minister for Health and Community Care. I am mindful of his advice referred to this morning that we should scrutinise government. My question goes to the exchange of services between the Canberra Hospital and the National Capital Private Hospital. I refer to the recent part-privatisation of the intensive care unit of the Canberra Hospital through the arrangement he has negotiated for transfer of patients from the unit to the private hospital. Will the Minister advise the Assembly of the details of the costing arrangements for individual patients and the estimated annual cost of this particular arrangement to the community?
MR MOORE: Are you asking about the intensive care unit in particular?
Mr Quinlan: Yes, the overall costs of it.
MR MOORE: Thank you. As part of the agreement to lease, Health Care of Australia negotiated with the Canberra Hospital to provide a number of diagnostic and non-medical services. They include not only intensive care but also pathology, radiology, ultrasound, nuclear medicine, pharmacy and biomedical engineering, along with some non-medical