Page 4726 - Week 15 - Tuesday, 13 December 2005

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Questions without notice

Hospital waiting lists

MR SMYTH: My question is directed to the Minister for Health. The ACT hospitals’ monthly activity and performance report, which I obtained under FOI, shows that, at the end of September, waiting lists were actually 5,450—not 4,652 as you claim. I seek leave to table the chart.

Leave granted.

MR SMYTH: I table the following document:

Elective surgery waiting lists, July 2003-September 2005

The chart is quite clearly and unambiguously about elective surgery at Calvary and at the Canberra Hospital. Despite this, you have claimed that the reason for the discrepancy is the inclusion on this chart of other services such as dental surgery as well as clinically unfit patients.

Minister, if, as you claim, the extra 798 people on the waiting list are waiting for dental surgery and other mysterious surgery or are clinically unfit, can you tell the Assembly exactly what these other surgeries are, how many people are waiting for each of them, and how many were clinically unfit?

MR CORBELL: Unfortunately, Mr Smyth has yet again misled the Assembly. He has done so—

Opposition members interjecting—

MR SPEAKER: Order! Order! Mr Corbell, you will have to withdraw that.

MR CORBELL: I withdraw that, Mr Speaker. Once again, Mr Smyth has misled the people of Canberra. He has quite deliberately sought to create an argument that suits his ends, regardless of the facts. I am delighted to advise members that—I stated this in the recent Assembly committee hearings into the ACT Health annual report—as at 30 September this year 4,652 people were on the ACT elective surgery waiting lists. That is a fact and I stand by it.

Mr Smyth argues that he has some other piece of material that suggests that there is close to an additional thousand people on that list. The number that Mr Smyth quoted is the total number of people on the list—both those ready for care and those not ready for care. It is national practice to report publicly only those people on the list who are ready for care.

I draw Mr Smyth’s attention to the National Health Data Dictionary, which is the dictionary used by every state and territory when it comes to reporting health statistics. What is the requirement of the National Health Data Dictionary? I quote: “Only patients ready for care are to be included in the national minimum data set elective surgery waiting times”. That is what we report. That is what the previous government reported as

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