Page 291 - Week 01 - Thursday, 16 February 2006

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(4) What is the Government doing to recruit and hire more haematologists in the ACT given that Dr Phillip Barraclough has publicly stated that “it doesn’t look too promising”, in regards to the situation with haematologists improving in the ACT;

(5) Is the Minister concerned, following the airing of a story on Stateline on Friday, 18 November 2005, that one particular Canberra patient is packing up and moving to Port Macquarie because she can receive better treatment there than in the National Capital;

(6) Has the Government or ACT Health made contact with the woman featured in the Stateline story to apologise for the inconvenience caused to her as a taxpayer in the ACT; if not, why not;

(7) Why is it that a smaller scale town like Port Macquarie can attract haematologists but the National Capital cannot;

(8) What is the Government doing to change the perception of Canberra among medical professionals and attract them to Canberra given Dr Noel Tait’s public comments that many people he speaks to believe Canberra is an awful place.

Mr Corbell: The answer to the member’s question is as follows:

(1) Over the last six months, newly referred patients to the Haematology Department at The Canberra Hospital have been assessed using a triage system, based on the need for care. Only patients, who in the opinion of the Haematologists did not warrant immediate assessment or intervention, had letters sent to their General Practitioner offering them the option of either having a deferred appointment at The Canberra Hospital or a consultation with one of the Haematologists at Concord Hospital, NSW. As a result of this letter, a maximum of 20 patients were seen in the Haematology Department at Concord Hospital in this calendar year.

(2) A small proportion of non-urgent patient referrals (approximately 10 per cent of non-urgent referrals) are currently being given the option of seeking an earlier appointment in the Haematology Department at Concord Hospital. However, all patients requiring urgent or semi urgent assessment or treatment have been seen in the Haematology Department of The Canberra Hospital.

(3) (a) In order to provide a timely diagnostic and clinical service to patients in the ACT and surrounding areas of NSW, a total of up to five Haematologists is required.

(b) Currently, there are four full time Haematologists in the ACT, however one is on long term sick leave. It is anticipated that he will be able to return to work in 2006. In the 2004-2005 budget, funds were made available for an additional Haematologist, who has been recruited from overseas and will take up the appointment on 28 February 2006.

(4) ACT Health advertised for and appointed an additional Haematologist in October 2005 and this person will take up his position in February 2006. ACT Health has also advertised for a further Haematologist, to replace one of the Haematologists who is retiring in December 2005. No applications were received for this position but efforts are continuing to recruit to this position. Nationally, there is a shortage of Haematologists and there are consultant vacancies in other Capital cities. However, once the forthcoming vacancy is filled and the Haematologist who is on sick leave returns to work, we will have a total of five Haematologists.

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