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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 14 Hansard (11 December) . . Page.. 5244 ..

Hospital elective surgery waiting list

MRS BURKE: Mr Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Minister for Health, Mr Corbell. The opposition has received a copy of a letter from a woman in Wanniassa to management at the hospital. She has been on the waiting list for several years and vented frustration about filling out survey after survey without any result. One of the questions was "I have already had my surgery-please remove me from the waiting list."This question is presumably asked because a significant number of people get tired of waiting for surgery in the public system-

Mr Cornwell: And die.

MRS BURKE: They do not die-they decide to get surgery done privately, thank goodness. Minister, how many patients during 2002-03 asked to be removed from the waiting list because they had private surgery due to their frustration over your inability to provide elective surgery in a timely manner?

MR CORBELL: I draw Mrs Burke's attention to the fact that every month we report on removals from the waiting list, including removals for reasons other than having the surgery undertaken. She should simply check the monthly figures.

MRS BURKE: Mr Speaker, I ask a supplementary question. Minister, how can patients on the elective surgery waiting list have confidence that they will receive the procedure they have been waiting for, given the financial problems in the hospital system highlighted by the Auditor-General?

MR CORBELL: Mr Speaker, they can have confidence because the government is spending an additional $2 million per annum to improve access to elective surgery.

Mrs Dunne: And we are getting less for it.

Mrs Burke: Here we go. Here we go.

MR CORBELL: And here they come, Mr Speaker. Already this year we have seen close to an additional 350 people, 350 Canberrans extra, get access to the elective surgery they need. So this government is investing Canberrans' money in improving access to elective surgery. An additional 300 Canberrans, on top of the thousands of Canberrans every year who access elective surgery, have got access to elective surgery this year because of that increase in funding.

Mr Smyth: It is still less than we spent in our final year.

MR CORBELL: I am sure that Mr Smyth will pay close attention to the figures when they come out this month.

I can assure you, Mr Speaker, that I have every confidence that the waiting list is both stabilising and we are seeing an increase in throughput. That, indeed, is the objective of the government-to get more people the elective surgery they need. And that is what we are delivering-an extra $2 million in elective surgery; an extra 300 Canberrans already, just in less than the last six months, getting access to the elective surgery they need.

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