Page 996 - Week 04 - Tuesday, 15 March 2005

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They ask us why there is a much longer waiting time for appointments … why they wait six weeks for results.

Minister, why are women now waiting much longer for breast screening appointments and waiting longer to receive results?

MR CORBELL: Mr Speaker, I am advised that the current waiting time from getting screened to getting a result is three weeks. That is the target we are aiming to maintain for women who have a screen through the breast cancer ACT program. It is a very important program.

We have, as I am on the public record as saying, experienced difficulties with recruiting and retaining sufficient radiologists and radiographers to perform this important work. In particular, we have had difficulty in contracting sufficient radiologists to read screens once they are undertaken. This is, of course, a concern for the government.

We have not sat idly on our hands in relation to this situation; we have worked hard to address it. That has gone to the extent of recruiting additional radiologists from Sydney who read the screens—which are sent to Sydney for those radiologist to read—interpret them and then provide advice back to the women here in Canberra who had those screens undertaken.

We have seen fluctuations in service delivery over the past 12 to 18 months. That has been the result of a lack of radiologists to undertake the service. There has not been a lack of money. There has not been a lack of intent on the part of BreastScreen ACT to deliver the services; it has been a work force shortage that has been difficult to counter. Other screening programs around the country have experienced similar problems.

I have to say that our figures, in terms of the number of people who are screened, remain the best in the country. Our figures are the best when it comes to the percentage of women who are able to access the program in the appropriate age cohort. The government is working hard to continue to maintain high standards of service delivery in BreastScreen ACT. As I indicated to members at the beginning of my answer, the current waiting time, I am advised, from screen undertaken to results received is three weeks.

MRS BURKE: Thank you, minister. Would you kindly clarify, firstly, where that information comes from; and, secondly, advise the Assembly why access to breast cancer screening services has worsened over the past three years?

MR CORBELL: I think I have answered the second part of the question. In relation to the first: the information comes from BreastScreen ACT.

National Zoo and Aquarium

DR FOSKEY: My question is to the Minister for the Environment. It relates to catchment management and the National Zoo and Aquarium. On 20 January 2005 the Canberra Times reported the offer of a land grant to the National Zoo and Aquarium. The process had taken several years to reach that point, which the Acting Chief Minister explained by the need to conduct a number of environmental reports. We have since been

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