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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (26 November) . . Page.. 3065 ..


Hospital Waiting Lists

MR STANHOPE: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Minister for Health and Community Care. The Minister noted in question time on Tuesday that, despite the Government's $3m offer to the Canberra Hospital for the purchase of additional elective surgery throughput in 1998-99, specifically to target long waiting lists, this offer has not yet been taken up. Can the Minister say what the potential impact of the proposed $3m offer, if accepted, would have on the waiting list, and can he say why the hospital has not taken up the offer?

MR MOORE: Thank you, Mr Stanhope, for the question. I have been concerned that the Canberra Hospital has not taken up that offer but, as I indicated, I am looking at the possibility of having the service done elsewhere. I am continuing discussions with the Canberra Hospital. They have not said no; they have not taken up the offer so far. Rather than do a quick calculation off the top of my head, dividing roughly $10,000 into the $3m to get a very broad figure, I think it would be better if I took on notice the question about the impact that the $3m would have. We would be quite specific in buying a certain number of cost-weighted separations for that money.

We have to get a positive response from the Canberra Hospital. Then we can look at the waiting list and say which particular areas we want to target. We are not going to just say, "Here is $3m. Try to reduce the broad waiting list". We are going to say, "These are the particular areas of specialty; these are the categories that we want done", and so on. When we asked Calvary Hospital to do orthopaedic surgery, we were quite specific about purchasing services to do with hips and knees, because we know that hips in particular cause a huge amount of pain before they are done and they are quite an extraordinary example of surgery that turns people's lives around. We were particularly keen to focus on that strategy.

To be very clear, the part of the question I will take on notice is the part about the $3m, but I will also ask the hospital for more information about what we need to do. The answer I was given when I asked what the problem was was that the combination of theatre time and intensive care unit beds makes it very difficult to get any further throughput. Currently a review of the intensive care unit is being conducted. In fact, I can give you a little bit of detail on that review. I do not want to go on too long, Mr Stanhope, but these things are all tied in together. Dr Phil Byth from John Hunter Hospital and Dr Theresa Jacques from St George Hospital will be doing it, as I recollect, during December 1998, and I hope that we will have the report as early as possible in the new year.

MR STANHOPE: I acknowledge the Minister's offer to provide additional information going to the reasons that the $3m offer has not at this stage been taken up. The supplementary question I ask is: In the context of additional information that the Minister has undertaken to provide, could he also advise whether or not the fact that

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