Page 42 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 15 February 2011

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Mr Hanson: Mr Speaker, under standing order 42, I would ask that the minister address her comments through the chair rather than directly to the opposition.

MR SPEAKER: Yes, thank you. The point of order is upheld, Mr Hanson. Minister, let us return to the question at hand.

MS GALLAGHER: Thank you. With a bit of quiet, I will. With the doubts around the reliability and appropriateness of the clinical classifications, I have sat in recent meetings with people who work in this area and they have all confessed to inappropriately classifying patients because—and they are all doctors that do it—they want patients to be seen. The reason they are doing it is that they do not want their patients to have a long wait, so they classify them incorrectly and then we have to deal with that. So, yes, everybody has acknowledged that they have a role to play here to make the system work better. Everybody has committed to doing that.

Mr Hargreaves: On a point of order, Mr Speaker, in line with Mr Hanson’s recent point of order, I ask you to seek that those opposite address their interjections through you rather than to the minister, according to the standing orders.

MR SPEAKER: Thank you, members. Mr Smyth, a supplementary question?

MR SMYTH: Yes, Mr Speaker. Minister, how long have staff been downgrading patients’ urgency category, often without documented clinical reasons, and has this practice been occurring since you become minister almost five years ago?

MS GALLAGHER: I believe the policy came into place in 2007. It might have been 2008. I will check that. It was either 2007 or 2008 when it passed through the surgical services task force. The audit looked at a particular period of time and changes have been made to the category 1 rating in the annual report from the day that that came to the attention of ACT Health. You can see in the annual report there is a disagreement between the Auditor-General and ACT Health about how to correctly classify those category 1s and it is reflected on that page.

MR HANSON: A supplementary, Mr Speaker?

MR SPEAKER: Yes, Mr Hanson.

MR HANSON: Minister, today you blamed the surgeons, the administrative staff, the VMOs for the policy.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Hanson, preamble.

MR HANSON: Who else is there left to blame or do you accept some responsibility yourself?

MS GALLAGHER: I accept all responsibility for my department and for the operations within it.

MS BRESNAN: Supplementary question, Mr Speaker.

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