Page 1301 - Week 04 - Thursday, 10 April 2008

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Health system

MS MacDONALD: My question, through you, Mr Speaker, is to Ms Gallagher in her capacity as Minister for Health. Can the minister update the Assembly on recent figures on the performance of the ACT health system?

MS GALLAGHER: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I thank Ms MacDonald for the question. The recent quarterly performance report for quarter 2 of 2007 shows some improvements in key areas of the ACT health system, in particular, areas which we have been focusing on improving in relation to emergency department waiting times. In this quarter we have seen 100 per cent of category 1 presentations treated on time. There has been a four per cent improvement in category 2 presentations, from 77 per cent to 81 per cent. There has been a nine per cent improvement in category 3 presentations, from 46 per cent to 55 per cent. There has been a five per cent improvement in category 4 presentations, from 51 per cent to 56 per cent. Category 5 is the only area where we have seen a slight drop in timeliness. This has gone from 84 per cent to 82 per cent, but continues to remain well above the national benchmark of 70 per cent.

Importantly, the emergency department continues to treat 100 per cent of people who need immediate assessment and treatment—category 1—on time. At the same time, in this quarter we have seen high demand for urgent emergency department services, with total presentations for category 1 and category 2 being 16 per cent higher in the second quarter this year compared with the same quarter last year. This represents more than 280 extra high needs patients attending the emergency department over just one quarter, which equates, on average, to an extra three high needs patients requiring urgent assistance every day.

We know that we still need to continue to focus on category 3 and category 4 timeliness. That is something I have said in here a number of times, but I am very pleased to have seen the significant improvements in the category of timeliness in four of the five categories in the emergency department.

In elective surgery we are continuing to be on target to reach a record amount of 9,600 elective surgery operations this year. This second quarter shows that 2,253 people received elective surgery at the ACT public hospitals, which is two per cent up on the same period last year. In the previous financial year we provided 9,327 elective surgery procedures. We have seen that our extra investment in elective surgery has been targeted at people who have been waiting too long for the care, and we have seen a 15 per cent drop in the number of people waiting longer than one year for surgery over the past two years. We continue to provide outstanding performance in relation to category 1 elective surgery throughput, with 96 per cent of patients admitted on time in the second quarter of this year.

These are areas that the government is constantly criticised for. They are areas where we have accepted that we needed to improve on our performance in particular categories. This quarter shows that the extra investment we have provided to the hospital by means of extra funding for elective surgery, but also extra beds in the

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