Page 868 - Week 03 - Thursday, 10 March 2005

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MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The question was about Mr Tonkin’s status, not the perambulations through the Chief Minister’s arrangements. I was wondering what Mr Tonkin’s status was until those documents were put in place.

MR SPEAKER: I think the Chief Minister is entitled to go through the background. I am sure he is coming to the subject matter of the question.

MR STANHOPE: I did it the other way around: I answered the question by indicating that, at that stage, Mr Tonkin was an officer seconded to the Prime Minister’s department. If that is all that the Leader of the Opposition is interested in, I will end the answer there.

Health—surgery delays

MRS BURKE: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Minister for Health, Mr Corbell. It concerns a lady who has a family history of breast cancer and who, accordingly, has had her breasts screened regularly. She had a mammogram on 15 December but her 2004 results were not examined until 2 February 2005, nearly two months later. Her mammogram showed that she had an aggressive form of breast cancer. She was scheduled for an operation on March 7, a month later. This surgery was deferred again, and she is now scheduled for a bilateral mastectomy on March 14, three months after she had her mammogram. Why was her mammogram not examined until six weeks after it was performed, despite the fact that she was a patient with a high risk of developing breast cancer? Why will she not receive surgery for aggressive breast cancer until six weeks after her diagnosis?

MR CORBELL: Mr Speaker, if Mrs Burke is able to provide me with the details—that is, the name of her constituent—I would be very happy to look into the matter for her.

MRS BURKE: Thank you, Minister. I will certainly do that. Is this constituent a category 1 patient, and will she be another one of the category 1 elective surgery patients overdue at the end of February? Why has this government allowed the health system to deteriorate so badly that a woman has to wait three months for treatment, after having a mammogram done showing aggressive breast cancer?

MR CORBELL: I am not this woman’s doctor and, as Mrs Burke would comprehend—or, perhaps, even seek to comprehend—tens of thousands of people go through the ACT health system every month. I am very happy to investigate the case that Mrs Burke raises but I cannot answer the detail of the question she has raised without specific information about this person. If Mrs Burke is able to provide me with that, I am very happy to provide a full and detailed response to her.

Children—Therapy ACT assessments

DR FOSKEY: My question is to the Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services. Parents and professionals have raised concerns regarding the performance of Therapy ACT, which is funded by the Department of Disability, Housing and Community Services. In particular, there appear to be considerable delays in assessing children identified with additional needs, including those with suspected autism spectrum

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