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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 8 Hansard (20 August) . . Page.. 2924 ..

MR CORBELL: I remain doggedly optimistic because in the last two months I have seen waiting lists decrease. At the same time, the government is increasing the money available to surgery by $2 million per year for the next four years, which will see an extra 600 Canberrans receive access to elective surgery. That is a pretty good reason to see that we are taking action on this very important issue.

MRS DUNNE: Are you fiddling with the elective surgery lists by dealing with the quick and easy procedures and leaving people like Mr White, who need more extensive surgery, to languish on the list?

Mr Hargreaves: Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I consider the phrase "Is the minister fiddling with something?"a reflection on the minister's character. I would like a withdrawal.

MRS DUNNE: Okay, I am quite happy to rephrase it.

Hospital waiting lists

MRS CROSS: My question is to the Minister for Health, Mr Corbell. Yesterday, the Canberra Hospital informed one of my constituents that the wait for surgery as a category one patient would be five to six weeks at least. Minister, as you would be aware, the category status of a patient is determined by the surgeon. In fact, I have spoken to a constituent who waited up to seven weeks for acute cardiovascular surgery. That person also was a category one patient.

Minister, are you aware that the usual clinically desirable time is 30 days, which is far more like four weeks? Have you ever spoken to the actual patients to get accurate information on how long they are waiting?

MR CORBELL: My office receives regular representations from constituents concerned about waiting times or simply making inquiries about surgery; so, yes, I do speak to people about that issue. I am happy to confirm to members that as of the beginning of question time today, following communication with the Canberra Hospital and Calvary Hospital, there are no overdue category one patients on the waiting lists.

MRS CROSS: I have a supplementary question. Minister, are you able to inform the Assembly of the increase in adverse incidents as they relate to the longer than clinically desired waiting period for category one surgery?

MR CORBELL: Mr Speaker, I cannot provide details on Mrs Cross' question now, but I am happy to investigate that matter and provide further advice to her.

I think it is worth making the point that over 90 per cent-in fact, it is significantly higher than that-of the patients in category one get their treatment within 30 days, but in a small system such as the ACT's any number of slight changes can affect the capacity of the system to deliver within that period. For example, if a surgeon goes on leave and that surgeon is the only one that performs a certain type of procedure, that can impact on the waiting time for people needing the services of that surgeon. In a small system, such changes can have an impact.

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