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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 4 Hansard (1 April) . . Page.. 1145 ..

MR SPEAKER: That is all you get.

MS DUNDAS: -whether or not the needs assessment is looking at requirements related to public liability insurance, including the current requirement of a $10 million liability cover for meetings in public facilities such as libraries?

MR WOOD: I will come back to you on that issue as well.

Hospital waiting lists

MR CORNWELL: My question is to the Minister for Health. I understand that Calvary Hospital has still another six weeks of closures of its elective surgery operating theatres this financial year. This represents nearly half of the remainder of this financial year.What effect will these closures at Calvary have on waiting lists and waiting times? Is the Canberra Hospital also scheduled to shut down its elective surgery theatres at any stage during the remainder of the financial year-perhaps over the Easter long weekend?

MR CORBELL: I thank Mr Cornwell for the question. Calvary Public Hospital is proposing to close its theatres for elective surgery for three weeks, during the school holidays, from 7 to 28 April. Due to an unprecedented demand for medical services last year, Calvary Hospital was forced to take measures to manage within its available budget. The decision was made to cease elective surgery during the school holidays this year.

The reason behind this is that the previous government received additional funding as part of its agreement to sign up early to the last Australian Health Care Agreement. That funding, called the CUTS funding, was provided to increase throughput of elective surgery at both Calvary and Canberra hospitals.

Due to the fact that Canberra is the ACT's trauma hospital and has to deal with emergency surgery cases as and when they arise, it is desirable to have as much elective surgery as possible undertaken at Calvary Public Hospital, which does not have the same trauma function.

The impact of the closure will to some degree be pressure on waiting times. However, I am pleased to advise that ACT Health is in the process of implementing measures to avoid the planned two-week closure in July, which Calvary has also forecast. That work is ongoing. Calvary will obviously be making every attempt to treat category 1 urgent patients within the 30-day period. Emergency patients will, as always, receive the treatment they require.

It is worth highlighting that the public hospital system in the ACT is strong when it comes to addressing category 1 patients and seeing that they have their surgery within clinically acceptable times-that is, 30 days. Where we are not performing as well is in category 2 and category 3, and figures make that very clear.

The government is considering a range of responses to this issue, especially given that the CUTS funding, which was a one-off funding from the Commonwealth, has now expired, and we need to address the consequences of that. We will continue to manage

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