Plan to speed up wait lists for common elective procedures

A total of 2065 patients were awaiting elective surgery at Wollongong Hospital as at June 30, 2017.
A total of 2065 patients were awaiting elective surgery at Wollongong Hospital as at June 30, 2017.

More than 2000 patients were waiting for elective surgery at Wollongong Hospital at the end of June, according to the latest hospital report card.

Another 1716 patients were awaiting elective procedures at Shellharbour Hospital, and 1671 were on the wait list at Shoalhaven Hospital according to Bureau of Health Information (BHI) figures released on Tuesday.

The majority were waiting for common elective surgeries – for instance at Wollongong 337 patients were awaiting a total knee replacement and 155 required a total hip replacement.

However a $3 million spending blitz by the state government should reduce waiting times for hip and knee replacements and cataract extractions Health Minister Brad Hazzard said.

In announcing the spend this week, Mr Hazzard said a panel of NSW Health and Agency of Clinical Innovation staff would assess proposals from Local Health Districts and allocate funding accordingly.

‘’NSW already has the best on-time elective surgery performance in the country and this $3 million boost will make it even better,’’ he said.

According to the BHI Hospital Quarterly report, 1587 patients underwent an elective procedure at Wollongong Hospital from April to June 2017. A further 731 patients received elective surgery at Shellharbour Hospital, and 917 at Shoalhaven Hospital, in the quarter.

Shellharbour Hospital had a perfect score card, with 100 per cent of patients receiving surgery within clinically recommended timeframes.

At Wollongong and Shoalhaven hospitals, 100 per cent of urgent cases were done within the recommended timeframe of 30 days.

For semi-urgent cases only 83.6 per cent of patients’ surgery was done on time at Shoalhaven, and 92.2 per cent at Wollongong hospital.

For non-urgent cases, only 69.2 per cent of Shoalhaven patients – and 88.6 per cent of Wollongong patients – underwent surgery within the recommended timeframe of 12 months.

That meant, for instance, that patients waited up to 87 days for semi-urgent surgery, and 368 days for non-urgent surgery, at Wollongong Hospital.

Labor’s health spokesman Walt Secord called for a ‘’genuine elective surgery acceleration plan’’ to cut waits across NSW. He said the $3 million announcement ‘’will just fiddle around the edges’’.

The BHI report shows that 57,881 patients received elective surgery from April to June – however 74,500 patients were on the waiting list at the end of the quarter.

‘’The NSW health and hospital system is under enormous pressure with more record numbers of patients presenting to emergency departments and waiting for elective surgery,’’ Mr Secord said.