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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 7 Hansard (24 September) . . Page.. 2178 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

We don't see that using work for the dole participants is any different from using volunteers in the school system.

Ms Tucker: My question was: Will you increase the training component and the support - - -

MR STEFANIAK: Ms Tucker, the proposal for the training of these work for the dole participants is, I think, for a week's training. The training component is very similar to the training we gave to the IT trainees and the sport and PE trainees. The question is hypothetical because we have a Federal election. I note with interest the Leader of the Opposition's comments in relation to this. He could well see that schemes like this might have bipartisan support, and we have a proposal in relation to this scheme, Ms Tucker. Training is an integral part of it. The training proposed is very similar to the training that was proposed for the IT trainees, who were most successful last year, along with the sport and PE trainees.

Visiting Medical Officers - Cancellation of Surgery

MR CORBELL: My question is to the Minister for Health and Community Care. Can the Minister explain how visiting medical officers are informed of periodic cancellations to their surgery timetables at public hospitals? How much notice do the hospitals have to give to avoid a payment obligation, whether the surgery was to be undertaken on either a fee-for-service or sessional basis?

MR MOORE: That is a very strange question. I do not expect to know, nor do I intend to know, the minutia of what happens in the hospital. I will say this, though: There are times when a VMO has very short notice that their elective surgery is going to be cancelled. They may have somebody prepped ready to go into an operation when an emergency occurs. A child may have been in a car accident. Priority would go to that child. Under those sorts of circumstances the situation is unavoidable. I think you would agree with that, Mr Corbell.

Over the last six or eight weeks there were occasions when the hospital was under great pressure. We are still trying to get as much elective surgery as possible through. I believe that the VMOs themselves and the people for whom they were providing the surgery, the patients - I should say it around the other way, because you asked about VMOs - were not informed as early as they could have been informed that it was unlikely that patients would be having surgery. I certainly asked the hospital to look at improving their systems to ensure that people knew as early as possible, and certainly knew if there was a risk that they would be bounced. Part of the pressure in the hospital was in the specific areas where we are seeking more nurses and more support, such as the intensive care unit, which was chock-a-block at the time.

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