Page 1581 - Week 05 - Thursday, 7 April 2005

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As with the example of Valley FM, participation of senior citizens in our community is extensive. Seniors Week is a great showcasing of the events, activities and involvement of seniors in our community. It is the work of committed participant organisations like Valley FM in these activities that provides such excellent opportunities—together with the ongoing practical and financial support of the ACT government, in addition to the community grants initiative—to make such an outstanding contribution to our community.

Health—radiation oncology
Hospital waiting lists

MR SMYTH: (Brindabella—Leader of the Opposition) (6.26): I will use up the last couple of minutes to finish my speech from last night that I, unfortunately, did not get through. The final points of my speech are—and this is for Minister Corbell—about radiotherapy treatment.

This is what happened: in December 2001 the government appropriated money—some $2.75 million—for various radiotherapy equipment. This included not one but two multileaf collimators, a CT simulator and new planning software. In July 2002 the estimates committee was told that the new equipment was installed “and we now have a planning system that is one of the best you can get”. Remember, of course, that Mr Corbell had been blaming the failure to deliver radiotherapy services on the fact that the planning system had failed. This is what estimates was told—I will read it again. It says:

… we now have a planning system that is one of the best you can get. It’s a three-dimensional system and it enormously improves our ability to plan the radiation therapy for our patients.

The fact that this is a 3D system indicates that, in 2002, it was already linked to the CT simulator; so Mr Corbell might like to seek some more information from his department on that score. In March 2005 the minister, under the hammer on radiotherapy services, made up some claptrap about a replacement planning system and was caught out by the opposition. I think the minister should come down and correct the record.

The other point that I would like to take up with the minister is that today in question time, in response to a question from Mrs Burke, Mr Corbell said:

The point I need to make is that those data have been affected by some changes in relation to measuring both outpatients and inpatients.

The gist of it seems to be that some services previously provided at the hospital and counted as in-patient services are now outpatient services. I think the minister needs to come down and tell us which elective surgeries—and I use the term “elective surgeries”—are being done as outpatient services. I suspect the answer is none. People are waiting for admission. If the surgery were being done when they were outpatients, they could have got the surgery. So the minister’s answer this afternoon is incorrect yet again.

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