Page 2524 - Week 08 - Thursday, 30 June 2005

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a mistake, but we have dropped in the rankings and we are doing 20 per cent less—28 patients admitted against 35 five years ago. Again, the minister has much to answer for.

In regard to the percentage of people seen within the recommended time for elective surgery, the position is steady. We were ranked seventh; we are still seventh. But the numbers inside that have declined. Five years ago, 75 per cent of people were seen on time: it is now only 72 per cent. Again, the minister was on the radio this morning, saying; “We are doing really well because when you go to the emergency department all the category 1s are seen on time, and that is really important.” It is important because that is the life-threatening stuff; “See me in 10 minutes or I am dead.”

The minister is right in that, but what he did not say was that every one of those lists for the last 2½ years—the category 1 patients on the elective surgery waiting list; that is, “See me in 30 days or I am in serious trouble”—has had overdue category 1 patients and that is just unacceptable in a hospital system when we spent 35 per cent above the national average.

Elective surgery median wait time in days for selected procedures is steady; you would almost pray that steady was a good thing. The problem for the minister is that we are standing at the bottom of the pile. We were No 8 five years ago; we are still No 8. All of his reforms of the last couple of years have totally failed the patient on the elective surgery waiting list.

What we have seen in this report is a total debunking of everything the minister has claimed. We are not doing better than the other jurisdictions; we are not seeing more patients; we are not having more throughput; we are not building a better hospital system. It is costing us more and we are getting less. At the same time, the health of ACT patients is being put at risk by this government and this government’s reforms because this budget does not deliver on health outcomes for the people of the ACT.

MR QUINLAN (Molonglo—Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development and Business, Minister for Tourism, Minister for Sport and Recreation, and Minister for Racing and Gaming) (11.54): Mr Speaker, in response to the long dissertation on numbers by Mr Smyth, I am very pleased that he did some mathematics in high school. I just want to say that I recall, last Friday, at about 8.50 or 8.55 am, Mr Smyth being totally embarrassed on ABC radio by Mr Solly in his use of numbers, to the point where even I was embarrassed for him.

MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (11.55): Mr Speaker, I have a few additional comments. The minister simply does not get the point about managing his budget. He seems to be suggesting—I know that it is a popular stunt to do so—that we want to slash the hospital budget. I am trying to get across to him that we are trying to suggest that he manage it more efficiently and, by any measure and by the measure he accepts, it is costing too much to run at present.

That does not mean, however, that the services that exist under his method of management are being adequately funded and it will take time to rectify the mismanagement that has continued under his administration. But if he is looking for areas to start with and look at, I suggest he look closely at the elective surgery waiting

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