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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 06 Hansard (Wednesday, 23 June 2010) . . Page.. 2351 ..

The key is in paragraph 1—that is, if a patient is not going to be operated on within a date given by ACT Health, surgeons are being asked to downgrade those patients to category 2 but not for a clinical reason. They are being asked to downgrade patients based solely on the reason that it is going beyond the 30 days. That is the point of that letter.

MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Deputy Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Health and Minister for Industrial Relations) (8.58): It is obvious that Ms Bresnan’s amendment will get up with the support of the Liberals. From our point of view, we have no problem with the Auditor-General coming in and having a look at this. Health performance reporting is perhaps the most heavily scrutinised area of all government reporting. ACT Health holds it in very high regard to have accurate data available at their fingertips to provide a whole range of reporting areas. They have never ever been found to be manipulating the data. I think it was Mr Smyth that alleged on one occasion that they were fudging the figures, and that ended up with lawyers being engaged and Mr Smyth not being able to follow through with his allegations. That is how strongly ACT Health will defend its record on health statistics.

Mr Hanson fails to understand the way the surgeons and the surgical booking areas work. Has Mr Hanson read the waiting time and elective patient management policy? Have you read that, Mr Hanson? Did you even know it existed before I showed it to you tonight? It is quite a lengthy document—30 pages, on the website, been there for nearly two years. It will talk you all through it. What it says is, “Dear Doctor, when we were auditing the lists we found that currently you are unable to perform operations on all your category 1 patients within the 30 days because you don’t have that surgical time available to you.” That may be because they only operate at the Canberra Hospital once a month, yet they may have two category 1 patients who take the whole day of their booking or they may have four category 1 patients. Therefore, alternatives have to be examined.

So a letter is sent, “Your current category 1 patients are unable to be accommodated in your current contracted operating time. Accordingly”—blah, blah, blah, Mr Hanson has read that out—“make sure they are category 1. Here are the following options that will be used to help you manage these patients”:

(1) We will indicate on the faxed … front sheet the earliest possible date the patient can be accommodated on this list.

This may very well be 32 days or it might be the next time the surgeon operates at that hospital and that might be the date, in which case they will fall outside of category 1 30-day period. “If you feel that waiting this long is not acceptable, ie, your clinical decision making is that you do not think”—

Mr Seselja: Sorry, you didn’t read the second part of No 1. Why did you leave that out? The bit about reclassification?

MS GALLAGHER: Because if they fall outside the 30 days and it is acceptable to the doctor—that is, it is acceptable in their clinical opinion that that patient can wait—

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