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Lies, damn lies, statistics, and worst of all health statistics

johnboy 10 June 2009 3

So once again we enter the interminable world of health statistics with the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare announcing the release of the Australian hospital statistics 2007–08.

Health Minister Katy Gallagher would have us believe that the report card is straight A’s:

    The latest hospital statistics show the ACT Government’s continued investment in the public health system is paying off, with significant improvements across a range of measures despite our hospitals being busier than ever, ACT Health Minister, Katy Gallagher MLA, said today.

    The Minister said the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s Australian Hospital Statistics 2007-08 showed record levels of elective surgery in the ACT, improvements in bed numbers and average costs, and more timely services being provided in our emergency departments.

    “These results have been achieved despite a seven percent increase in activity in ACT public hospitals in 2007-08 and a rate of usage of public hospital services almost 18 percent higher than the rest of the nation.

    “This shows the community has great confidence in the ACT public hospital system,” Ms Gallagher said.

The ABC on the other hand has noted a different item to headline:

    Elective surgery waiting times in the ACT are more than double the national average.

    The latest hospital snapshot from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows the median wait for Canberra patients is 72 days.

    The national median wait for last financial year was 34 days.

We await the Liberals’ thoughts on the numbers.

UPDATED: Jeremy Hanson has fired off a predictable but no less telling response:

    “Since Labor has been in power in the ACT we have slid from being amongst the best performing health systems to amongst the worst in a range of performance indicators, in particular our emergency department waiting times.

    “If you are being admitted into hospital through our emergency departments, you can expect to wait on average, over 10 hours. This is a worrying number for Canberra families.

    “A median elective surgery waiting time in the ACT is 72 days compared to a national average of only 34 days. The next worst performing median waiting time is only 43 days.

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3 Responses to Lies, damn lies, statistics, and worst of all health statistics
Thumper 8:53 am 11 Jun 09

Spin, spin, spin.

Katy says we’re doing fine. Others seem to disagree.

Although I somewhat doubt the 10 hour average waiting time.

nathan 9:52 pm 10 Jun 09

Wait, what? 10 hours wait in emergency? Is this, in fact, more timely provision of services in emergency departments, as Ms. Gallagher claims? Or are one (or both) of them telling outright lies?

housebound 10:26 am 10 Jun 09

Whatever Katy says will be spin. Her interpretation of these reports has been selective at best for several years now. A few of us had reason to read the report (and associated others) a few years ago, and we ewre truly amazed at what was in there that Katy didn’t think worth mentioning.

And whatever spin is out on it, it doesn’t address something we have noticed in the past few months – it is suddenly very hard to get access to medical advice. We have a chronic condition to manage in this household. Until about a year ago, we could see the specialist wihtin a week, and arrange for the required tests to be done at Canberra hospital wihtin a week of that (tests were day-time tests that only they could do for reasons I won’t disclose here). It now takes 6 weeks to get a booking for the tests, and the specialist takes more than a month to get into.

Something has changed.

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