Health Minister disowns her own report card


The Health Minister, Racheal Stephen-Smith has refused to face up to her own report card on the ACT health system.

In question time in the ACT Legislative Assembly today, the Health Minister repeatedly distanced herself from independently published data on the performance of her health system provided by the Australian Medical Association (AMA).

In its annual report card on the performance Australia’s public hospitals released last week, the AMA again listed the ACT as the worst performing in terms on emergency department waiting times and elective surgery wait times.

In question time today, Deputy Leader of the Opposition Giulia Jones asked the Minister why the ACT health system could only manage to see ‘urgent’ emergency department patients on time 29 per cent of the time, compared to 74 per cent in 2002-03.

“The erosion of the ACT health system’s emergency department performance is obvious from the AMA’s independent data, but all the Minister could say is that the data went up and down,” Mrs Jones said.

“The Minister maintained the data moved up and down, but since 2002 the trajectory has only been down.

“She would also not accept that, since 2001, the ACT has had the worst elective surgery waiting times in the nation.

“She also refused to say if the elective surgery wait times will improve in 2022.

“The AMA is one of the most reputable health institutions in the country. Its independence is beyond question, and the report card it provides on the ACT health system is alarming.

“But the Minister refuses to confront the reality.”

The AMA's national report card on public hospitals shows that the per person amount spent by the ACT on public hospital is, in real terms, virtually the same it was in 2008-09 — over a decade ago.

The AMA report card shows that, in 2008-09, when adjusted for inflation, the ACT spend was $1,662 per person and in 2018-19, that figure had only risen to $1,741 per person — a 5 per cent real increase.

Meanwhile, Commonwealth funding per person for public hospitals in the ACT over the same period has grown in real terms by 40 per cent to $1,261.

“The Barr Government loves blaming the Commonwealth for its own failures, but today the Health Minister confirmed that the Commonwealth is more than pulling its weight on public hospital funding,” Mrs Jones concluded.