Page 335 - Week 01 - Thursday, 16 February 2012

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MR SESELJA: Minister, what strategies do you have in place to increase expenditure on care and protection and improve its effectiveness in our community?

Members interjecting—

MS BURCH: Yes, knock yourself out. Go to the annual report and you will see a 5.9 per cent increase. You will also be pleased to note that we have increasing—

Opposition members interjecting—

MS BURCH: Just go to the annual report. You are not interested really.

Hospitals—waiting times

MR HANSON: My question is to the Minister for Health. Minister, according to the recent Productivity Commission’s government services report, the median waiting time for elective surgery deteriorated to 76 days, more than twice the national average of 36 days and nearly 30 days longer than the next jurisdiction. You recently said in an interview on Radio 2CC, “In future, we won’t be using median wait time as a measure of the performance of the elective surgery system.”

Minister, why are you trying to change the national benchmark for elective surgery used by the Productivity Commission and the federal government? Is it to hide the appalling results you have delivered as health minister?

MS GALLAGHER: I welcome the question from Mr Hanson. As Mr Hanson would be aware if he had followed national health reform and, indeed, all the updates that have come out of health ministers’ discussions, there is work underway looking at standardising the management of waiting lists, including how jurisdictions report, because there is agreement that standardised waiting list management is not occurring now.

I think the latest results in national data sets indicate that a high percentage of patients, category 3 patients in New South Wales, who are due to get their surgery within 365 days get it within five days. That goes exactly to our point. The median wait time is not, and I have never accepted that it is, the best measure of performance of a waiting list or of your elective surgery. The national reporting is moving towards percentage seen on time. That is already what we report in our elective surgery report card, as does the commonwealth in some of the agreements we have made in national health reform.

So percentage seen on time will become the major national indicator of performance of waiting lists. Indeed, the median wait time will continue to be reported but there will be better measures of reporting the effectiveness of the management of the waiting list overall.

Mr Smyth: Not very convincing.

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