Elective surgery waiting lists blowout as Queensland hospitals struggle to meet demand

It took on average 293 days for 90 per cent of Queensland public hospital patients to undergo elective surgery in June 2019, new State Government figures revealed.

Orthopaedic surgery had the longest wait with 90 per cent of patients waiting 352 days for treatment, followed closely by ophthalmology at 350 days.

Wait times of about a year were also recorded for ear, nose and throat surgery, with 90 per cent of cases stretching out to 336 days, and vascular surgery extending to 318 days.

These very long patient wait times show the enormous strain and pressure that Queensland public hospitals are facing.

It is particularly concerning that 90 per cent of elective surgery patients at Children’s Health Queensland had to wait 349 days for plastic and reconstructive surgery, 342 days for orthopaedic surgery and 239 days for ear, nose and throat surgery. Overall, 90 per cent of elective surgery patients at Children’s Health Queensland had to wait 239 days for their procedure.

This comes despite Commonwealth funding for the nation’s public hospitals increasing by around 8.7 per cent annually – from $13.8 billion in 2013-14 to almost $20 billion in 2017-18.

“The latest data from Queensland Health paints a worrying trend and highlights the value of holding private health insurance,” said Matthew Koce, CEO of Members Health, the peak body for 25 of the country’s not-for-profit and member owned health funds.

“Health insurance provides consumers with choice, helping take pressure off the overstretched public hospital system and freeing up beds and operating theatres for those that need them most.”

“In the private system, consumers also have choice of experienced doctors, and can shop around, using great online platforms like www.HealthShare.com.au.”

Around 40 per cent of all procedures take place in the private hospital system, where health cover guarantees fast access to high quality care.

“We are fortunate to have one of the best private hospital systems in the world with around half the Australian population holding health cover,” Mr Koce said.

 

Members Health is the peak national body for 25 health insurers, which are not-for-profit, member owned and community based. In all, the Members Health funds provide private health insurance to over 2 million Australians.