Page 458 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 13 February 2013

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Medicine that highlighted the unacceptably high number of emergency patients in the ACT, Northern Territory and South Australia who have waited more than 24 hours for a hospital bed, the South Australian minister described Canberra Hospital as “poorly performing”. Interestingly, the report was written by an associate professor at the ANU who also works part time at the Canberra Hospital, so clearly he is in a position to know.

The only response from our own health minister was to challenge the methodology and to suggest:

There is no benefit to patients when someone takes a cheap shot at a hospital. What patients do benefit from is government investing in more nurses, more beds and better facilities.

This is what I am delivering and will continue to deliver.

The Chief Minister is not here at the moment but I say to the Chief Minister: you have been in the Health portfolio for six years. How much longer do Canberra patients have to wait before we see this investment?

Surely Canberra ratepayers ought to have better responses than denials and challenges to methodology when negative findings are made. Indeed, if you believe that the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine does not have robust study methodology, you should support this motion for the ACT Auditor-General to conduct its own performance audit of our emergency department. We saw the benefits when the Auditor-General assessed elective surgery. Give that opportunity to the emergency department.

If ACT Labor are genuine about delivering quality service in the health system and want to demonstrate a true commitment to transparency in government and to better health services—(Extension of time granted.) If Labor are genuine and want to demonstrate a true commitment to transparency in government and to better health services, they will support this motion. To do otherwise demonstrates Labor’s real intentions for health—more cover-ups and more hollow promises.

MRS JONES (Molonglo) (11.42): I rise to speak in support of this critically important motion calling for a performance audit into the state of our public hospital emergency waiting times. The latest quarterly report of ACT health services shows a consistent inability of emergency departments under this minister to meet their own performance targets. Even by their own admissions we are failing Canberra residents. According to ACT Health’s own report, the waiting times for categories 3 and 4 patients were a third or more below target with less than 50 per cent of category 4 patients seen within an hour and waiting times actually deteriorating in 2011-12 compared with the previous year.

Across all categories ACT Health has been forced to admit that only 55 per cent of patients are seen in the target time period. The really dubious statistic, however, is the one for category 5 patients. According to the latest report, 81 per cent of category 5 patients in 2011-12 were seen within two hours. Frankly I do not believe it. My own

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