Page 1042 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 16 March 2005

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enabled us to provide an additional 900 operations in 2003-04, 50 per cent more than was initially predicted. That is why that figure for 2003-04 is higher than the one for 2004-05. It is a one-off figure. We added a further one million in 2004-05 to partly compensate for the end to the additional one-off funding sources. This funding will provide an additional 50 joint procedures at Calvary this year and 150 more eye operations.

Mr Smyth’s assertions are simply wrong. Inpatient activity is up. Outpatient activity is up. Number of additions to the list is up. And by “up”, I mean inpatient activity is ahead of target. Outpatient activity is ahead of target. And number of additions to the list is higher than it has been previously. You cannot make the claim that we are spending more and getting less when you look at those figures objectively.

Mr Smyth makes the assertion that the amount of surgery at the Canberra Hospital is down 7 per cent. If you look at the total surgical line, that is, if you look at it completely in isolation and out of context, then certainly that is the case. However, the table shows that surgical activity at the Canberra Hospital, excluding gastroenterology, actually reported an increase of 0.4 per cent in the number of separations to January 2005 compared to the same period in 2003-04. The reduction in total separations is due to changes in the counting of some gastroenterology patients. Gastroenterology inpatient services are down 30 per cent, or 534 separations, not because we are providing fewer services, Mr Smyth, but because we now able to provide a number of these services in an outpatient rather than in an inpatient setting. So that explains that.

Finally, Mr Speaker, I would like to talk about the total number of people on the list. The total number of people on the list is now just over 5,000. That is a matter of concern to the government. We will continue to work hard to improve this situation. Between now and 2008, we will deliver over an extra $12 million for elective surgery activity. From when we were first elected until now, we have added at least an additional $4 million in terms of elective surgery activity. We are seeing a 60 per cent growth in admissions in the Canberra Hospital and Calvary Hospital since the 1990s, largely due to an ageing population, reduced community access to general practitioners and rapid advances in medical technology.

But you cannot assert that we are doing more and getting less. We are doing more, and more people are coming forward for treatment. That is the challenge we have got. There are no simple or glib answers and this censure, Mr Speaker, is simply an exercise in political point scoring.

MR SPEAKER: The minister’s time has expired.

MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (11.03): I find it amazing that the minister can claim—and I throw back at him his comment—that you can do anything with figures. You certainly can, but there are some absolute, basic facts here. We are spending more and getting less. Mr Smyth has outlined a number of figures—I will add a few more—which show that that is the case. This government’s health budget has risen, I think, approximately 30 per cent from when it got in. And all you have to do is ask the public how they feel about it. Ask the public; ask the people who actually use the hospitals; ask the doctors there; ask the nurses. They are the ones who will tell you that there are huge areas of concern here.

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