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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 01 Hansard (Tuesday, 9 February 2010) . . Page.. 70 ..

surgery patients in the ACT have a longer wait in the ACT for surgery than they would have in any other jurisdiction. Treasurer, why do patients wait so long?

MS GALLAGHER: If you look at the results published in the ROGS data, I think all of us here in the ACT can be very pleased with the results, including a whole range of indicators which show that it is the healthiest place to live and that we live the longest of anywhere in the country. But there are areas of pressure.

Mr Hanson: That is to do with our high socioeconomic status, minister.

MS GALLAGHER: Mr Hanson continues to interject, Mr Speaker; I just draw that to your attention in case you are blocking him out. There are areas of continued pressure that we have been working on. One of those is around elective surgery. The ability of the government to determine progress in elective surgery really is about increasing throughput. We cannot control additions to the list. What we do is control exits from the list.

Any measure or any analysis shows that we have been increasing our elective surgery work every single year; indeed, we exceeded 10,000 operations—the fifth year in a row where we have had record levels of access to elective surgery. That is the focus of the government. Over 11,000 people joined the elective surgery list last year. Over 10,000 of them were removed, but demand for surgery continues to grow.

Part of the challenge is the limitations of the private system in the ACT.

Mr Coe: Which you are about to rip into.

MS GALLAGHER: There are limitations in the private sector.

Mr Seselja: So not your fault, again!

MS GALLAGHER: I know that the opposition think that all these matters are very easy and you just go out and shop around and buy services from the private system, but the reality is that you cannot do that. We have tried. We have tried to put more work out to the private system, and there are barriers to that being done.

Other issues include the fact that we are a major tertiary referral centre for the region and that six of our 12 operating theatres at Canberra Hospital are tied up doing emergency work every day. This is not something that larger jurisdictions have to endure; they can have elective surgery centres in their jurisdictions which help them get through their elective work: there are no cancellations and things can be managed through these elective surgery centres. That is what larger jurisdictions are able to do.

We have been improving our performance in elective surgery. Demand continues to grow. I am very confident that we will see levels of elective surgery continue to be in the high 9,000s, possibly 10,000, for this financial year. That is the responsibility of the government—to continue to grow our service, continue to work with our providers. I am going to continue to put pressure on the doctors to see what work can be done in the private system. They are a barrier to putting work out to the private system. We have tried it, and in a number of specialties it has been resisted.

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