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Surgery waits likely to be worse under Snelling’s Health Cuts Plan

The State Liberals are concerned that the Weatherill Government’s radical health cuts plan threatens to blow out surgery waiting times at South Australia’s public hospitals.

Patients are already waiting for up to four years to get surgery they need.

Information provided to General Practitioners in the Northern Adelaide Local Health Network shows that it takes up to three years to get in to a specialist clinic1 - if the patient needs surgery they then start their wait for surgery.

At the Lyell McEwin Hospital, for example, a person needing eye surgery faces a wait of up to three years to be seen at an outpatient clinic so they can get on the waiting list for surgery. Once they are on the list they can face up to another year waiting for the surgery2.

Modbury Hospital patients needing ENT, plastic surgery or orthopaedics face outpatient clinic waits of 25 months, 30 months or up to three years respectively.

“Doctors report that referral practices are so chaotic that some urgent cases are not being identified and other cases become urgent while people are waiting to be seen,” said Shadow Health Minister Stephen Wade.

“The situation is already dire but the added fear is that Labor’s plans to downgrade the Modbury Hospital will make the situation worse.”

The AMA submission on the Transforming Health Proposals paper warns of dire consequences:

“We are concerned … the reorganisation of elective surgery is likely to be problematic and disruptive leading to increased delays in surgery.” (Page 6)

One medical professional was quoted expressing his concerns about unrealistic plans for the relocation of services in the South:

“Ultimately the consequences will be felt at a community level – longer outpatient and waiting list times are inevitable.” (Page 12)

The release of the Australian Medical Association’s 2015 Public Hospital Report Card has shone a harsh and unforgiving light on the Weatherill Labor Government’s failure to improve elective surgery waiting times, with South Australia failing to meet two of the three performance targets for elective surgery.

References

1: http://www.naml.com.au/?wpdmpro=a150468-indicative-outpatient-waiting-times-specialty-6-march-2015 (accessed 16 April 2015).

2: In December 2013, the latest available SA Health data shows that the median waiting time for ophthalmology elective surgery at Lyell McEwin Hospital was 317 days – up 12 days on four years previously.