Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 1 Hansard (17 February) . . Page.. 199 ..
Mr Berry: Ha, ha!
MR MOORE: What the Assembly needs to know is that that process is well under way. Mr Berry is guffawing. This is the Mr Berry who, with every single budget brought in, had a blow-out. Now, it was not just an ordinary blow-out; his blow-outs were in the cash system, they were cash blow-outs. Remember, the information that he provided and was provided under Labor governments was not accrual information and therefore, of course, did not take into account the fact that they could let maintenance go and let a series of other things go. Still, every single budget that he brought in was a blown-out budget.
Even though these things will take a long time, the community would expect me and this Assembly should expect me to take strong and swift action to begin the process. I have done that. I have taken strong action; I have taken swift action. The new chief executive officer, Mr Rayment, and his team have been engaged for the last three weeks in a process of soul-searching. They are looking at their own operations, their core needs, their performance. There are strong indications to me that the ideas that they are putting up to address the hospital problems are ones that are thoughtful and are beginning to work. What must follow is action, and it does take strong action. Now, together, we can tackle the projected $10m operating loss.
However, disruption of the difficult reforms being developed within the hospital by political point-scoring that is not based on facts will not help. The point-scoring is about short-sightedness, it is about arrogance, it is about short-term political gain instead of the general view. The reforms are about control of the hospital budget so that it does not blow out in the long term and that we get long-term structural change.
I would like to move to the second point in the motion, that is, waiting lists and waiting times. We were provided with a copy of the motion - and I thank you for that - prior to going on the radio last night to deal with this issue. The copy of the motion addressed, as it ought, waiting times. Obviously, it became inconvenient to deal with waiting times because you can always get much more political mileage from waiting lists; so the motion that appears on the notice paper today deals with waiting lists rather than waiting times. Waiting lists are amalgamations of individual surgeon's lists within each specialty. They are not a particularly useful measure, because they result from demand and other factors that are totally beyond the control of the health system. Waiting times, of course, are far more important as they measure how much delay each patient is enduring, and they much more directly measure performance. It is very interesting that Mr Stanhope did not want to deal with the real issues of how long people are waiting, not for non-clinically-indicated circumcision, non-clinically-indicated plastic surgery or non-clinically-indicated breast reduction, for example, but for category one and category two treatment.
Mr Berry: You trivialise serious matters.
MR MOORE: I hear carping again from Mr Berry, who, do not forget, presided over four years of health blow-outs and four years of increasing waiting lists. Perhaps he did put the argument about waiting times. I think it is really important to understand that an increase in the waiting lists is not a measure of performance. So, what is a measure of