Page 2427 - Week 06 - Thursday, 24 June 2010

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Hospitals—waiting times

MR DOSZPOT: My question is to the Minister for Health. Minister, yesterday you were asked in the Assembly by Mr Hanson:

Minister, have ACT Health at any stage approached doctors to request that patients be downgraded from urgent to a lower category?

In your answer, you stated:

I cannot answer that. Have ACT Health ever asked any doctor around the clinical status of every patient? I cannot answer that question. I think it would be unlikely but—

Minister, given that you stated last night that the letter tabled in the Assembly was in accordance with ACT Health policy and that you were aware of this policy and aware of the letters that were provided to doctors that included the request for doctors to downgrade their patients, did you mislead the Assembly when you stated that you could not answer the question and that it would be unlikely?

MS GALLAGHER: The answer to the question is no. The comments I made were actually on Tuesday in question time, not yesterday in question time. Let us just get your questions correct first. I think Mr Seselja’s question was wrong, as well. I do not think there is a patient Wainwright; we are still trying to find him.

But the question was: were doctors approached by ACT Health specifically to downgrade patients. I said I could not say for certain that it had never happened but that it would be unlikely. The policy, which has a letter which sits below it as part of that policy, is around managing category 1 patients who are unable to be fitted in with their surgeon within the 30 days. They are given different options for managing that patient. If they remain a category 1, they must see another surgeon, the surgeon of their choice must get extra operating time, or, if they are able to wait for their surgery and it is outside the 30-day timetable, then they would be classified as category 2a.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Doszpot, a supplementary question?

MR DOSZPOT: Minister, do you stand by your answer or will you apologise to the Assembly for the inaccuracy of your answer?

MS GALLAGHER: My answer was not inaccurate.

MR HANSON: Supplementary, Mr Speaker?

MR SPEAKER: Yes, Mr Hanson.

MR HANSON: Minister, do you stand by your answer given in question time on Tuesday when you said that no-one can change the category of a patient other than their doctor?

MS GALLAGHER: That is the advice that I have and that is what the policy outlines—that it must be done with the approval. If you read the policy, it goes through the steps very clearly about the decision makers.

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