Page 4341 - Week 14 - Wednesday, 27 November 2013
by the doctors, are true or not. How could I know? But what I do know is that this needs to be cleared up, otherwise people waiting on our elective surgery waiting lists right now will have no confidence that they are being operated on based on the fact that they are due to be operated on, that they have been waiting long enough and that there is a priority list rather than their being operated on because it makes the books look better. I think that that is a problem that needs to be addressed.
I will not be supporting this. I would say to the Greens minister: follow what your party did back before you joined government. Accept that there is a problem here. Accept that we need an independent look at this. Let us do it. It does not mean if you support this motion that you are accepting the case. But what you would be saying, Mr Rattenbury—through you, Mr Assistant Speaker—is, “Okay, these are pretty serious concerns that have been raised. The government has got form. Let’s clear it up. And if the minister is right, that’s great. If she’s not, let’s fix it up,” as we have done before. That then led to significant improvements in elective surgery.
I would ask that the Greens minister consider that and reflect on the way his party once behaved, once conducted themselves and once did, to a small extent, act as a genuine crossbench.
MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (5.28): I thank Mr Hanson for raising this issue today, and I acknowledge the importance of delivering high quality elective surgery here in the ACT. However, I do not believe this is an issue that warrants an inquiry. In fact, despite the accusations put quite vocally in some circumstances, upon further research on the part of my office, it seems this is an area which deserves recognition for significant improvement.
Elective surgery, along with emergency department waiting times, has been one of the areas which has had plenty of focus and attention over the past few years. As a result, there has actually been some action to improve on those areas which were consistently coming back with poor results. As the Minister for Health has outlined, in March this year a new practice of scheduling was introduced at the Canberra Hospital to ensure that a maximum number of people get their surgery on time, and there was a focus on how to reduce the number of those who are overdue. However, Calvary hospital was not meeting its targets for category 2 patients—those that need surgery within between 30 and 90 days. So it was asked to introduce the same practices as at Canberra Hospital.
I understand Calvary started this new practice in September this year and in the first month they already have shown significant improvements by bringing their year-to-date figures of people getting surgery on time from 55 per cent to 73 per cent. This new practice has meant an increase in the number of people getting surgery done on time and, as Ms Gallagher’s amendment notes, has reduced the number of people who were not having surgery in time from 922 across all three categories last March down to 618 people in October.
There have been suggestions queue jumping is going on and that the hospitals are manipulating the waiting list data by not operating on people in the order that they were put on the list but, instead, are focusing on people who are at risk of being