Page 478 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 5 March 2008
(3) calls on the ACT Government to provide to the Legislative Assembly a timetable for the implementation of these changes as soon as possible.
I welcome the opportunity to debate this motion. I drafted it to both recognise the well-documented problems within Canberra’s hospitals and tentatively welcome news that the government is, at the very least, planning considerable changes to and significant overhaul of the hospital system.
The dire state of ACT public hospitals is set out in the report on government services undertaken by the Australian government Productivity Commission. This report echoes what we have seen in other reports such as reports of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and the Australian government state of our hospitals reports. Despite this, members of the Assembly that have raised concerns about this issue have had some trouble getting through with their message to the government.
In light of the quite damning evidence that has been confirmed again and again by report after report, the Minister for Health has continued to claim that there is no evidence of problems in ACT public hospitals. In the debate on the Public Hospital Board Bill on 21 November 2007, the minister stated:
We have a major tertiary referral centre. We are servicing a region. Every single day our emergency department deals with over 150 people coming in seeking treatment. Our outcomes are the best in the country, Mrs Burke. The delivery of services at the Canberra Hospital rivals every hospital in the country—and you hate it. You hate that they deliver that level of service.
This is reported in Hansard at pages 3611 to 3612.
This is a rather extraordinary comment which totally contradicts what we have seen in national reports from a range of different sources. All of these reports are telling us that the costs in the ACT are the highest in the country and that waiting times in ACT public hospitals are the worst in the country.
The recent report on government services by the Australian Productivity Commission is just the latest to confirm this sorry state of affairs. In question time yesterday, I heard the minister refusing to accept claims that had been made in this place about us having significant problems in terms of waiting times for surgery, for emergency treatment and for elective surgery. These are not my words or the words of any other member here; they are taken directly from the report.
I refer the minister to table 10.6 of the report, which shows that the ACT had the lowest percentage of patients who were seen within the triage category time frames for emergency treatment—the lowest percentage of patients seen. This is clearly set out in the report. The report indicates that only 52 per cent of patients in the ACT were seen within these times. The average for the whole of Australia is 69 per cent, with every other jurisdiction achieving the time frames for at least 60 per cent of their patients.
I go to waiting times for elective surgery, an area in which I, Ms MacDonald and Dr Foskey had a particular interest due to a public accounts inquiry conducted in this