Page 452 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 13 February 2013

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review will only address the processes around the performance information and will not go directly to the problems around how to reduce the number of people using our emergency departments and the amount of time that they may need to wait. I think this is an area which would benefit patients, the health budget and staff in emergency departments alike.

Equally, the Auditor-General conducts performance audits to ensure the effective operation of administrative units. In this instance, to address the substantive concerns that I think Mr Hanson seeks, and noting the already full performance audit program that the Auditor-General has—that is something that is identified through the public accounts committee; I know the program is quite full over the next two years—the more appropriate first step is for the Assembly to be made aware of what the government is doing and plans to do to address the issues in the emergency department. I do not agree that at this point in time it is appropriate for the Auditor-General to conduct a performance audit. With the benefit of the information and an assessment of the progress in emergency department performance information, as will be reported by the Auditor-General later this year, I think the Assembly will be in a far better position to determine whether a further review by the Auditor-General will be necessary.

Given the nature of the emergency department and the issues it faces, there may well be more appropriate mechanisms for tackling the access issue. It is an access issue. I think there is a general acknowledgement that, once into the system, the quality of care is extremely high. The point of concern which Mr Hanson is expressing and which people in the community have raised with me is about how long it takes to access that service. Until we have more information from the government, I do not think we are in a position to make that assessment. The Greens were very clear last term that we do not believe—and this is an important thing to draw out—that the numbers are the be-all and end-all, and that we need to look at the health outcomes we achieve as the best guide to how the health system is working.

As I said, there is a concern about the times, and certainly some of the ROGS information creates a particular picture. The position we have taken consistently—I think Ms Bresnan articulated this very well in the last Assembly—is that it is about looking at the overall health outcome. In that context I note that recommendation 1 from the Auditor-General in the recent report was to improve publicly reported performance indicators and to include additional qualitative indicators. That is something that I intend to continue to pursue following on from the work that Ms Bresnan did last term. To the extent that access issues and waiting times affect these outcomes, they need to be addressed.

I have circulated an amendment to the motion which I now move:

Omit paragraph (2), substitute:

“(2) notes that the Government has invited the Auditor-General to carry out a review 12 months after the completion of Performance Report 6/2012 (Emergency Department Performance Information) to review progress with implementation of the recommendations; and

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