Page 4176 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 24 October 2018

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MISS C BURCH: Minister, were you relying on the lack of publicly available data on emergency department waiting times to hide the fact that waiting times were going up?

MS FITZHARRIS: No; and I did not.

Health—elective surgery

MR HANSON: My question is to the Minister for Health and Wellbeing. On 15 February 2018, you advised the Assembly:

When it comes to timeliness of elective surgery … We are heading in the right direction—

The figures in the 2017-18 annual report show that this was not correct. Minister, why did you advise the Assembly on 15 February 2018 that we are heading in the right direction with regard to elective surgery when this was not the case?

MS FITZHARRIS: I recall that those questions were directly related to the recently released Report on government services, which is released at the end of January and the end of February every year. That is quite historical data. Based on the elective surgery blitz, which was conducted in 2015-16, that has certainly been the case because we were able to remove a number of long-wait patients from the elective surgery list.

That certainly has an impact on the median timeliness of elective surgery. What we have done this year is make further investments, announced in both February, in the context of the mid-year budget update, and also in this year’s budget, to significantly increase not only elective surgery but also emergency surgery resources for ACT public hospitals.

I look forward very soon to releasing the first quarterly performance report for this financial year, which will demonstrate the momentum that has been gained from the investment in February and further investment in the June budget. This will show that we are now on a sustainable path to make sure that we significantly improve timeliness, not only in elective surgery but also in our emergency departments.

MR HANSON: Given all the work that has been done, can you explain why the waiting times in the annual report are getting worse?

MS FITZHARRIS: I will refer Mr Hanson to my previous answer.

MRS DUNNE: Minister, did you base your decision to mislead the community about elective surgery waiting times on the lack of publicly available data?

MS FITZHARRIS: I did not mislead the community.

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