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Canberra Hospital, waiting over a month for triage

By 26 January 2013 18

I submitted a referral to canberra hospital outpatient clinics well before xmas. I have confirmed that they recieved it, but apparently it is still waiting to be triaged. I asked about the xmas shutdown for this clinic and it was only very minimal, so no real explanation as to why it is taking so long. I understand I will need to wait for my appointment – but I don’t understand why it takes over a month to get back to me to confirm a) that my referral was accepted (they do apparently reject a lot) and b) to allocate me an appointment, even if in a years time. To make it even more difficult to understand, I am an existing patient of this clinic who was just told I needed to submit a new referral because the old one has expired.

I have asked how long I can expect to wait for my referral to be triaged, but I am still waiting for an answer.

I can only assume they must triage which patients need to be triaged, and it was decided that I wasn’t urgent enough to bother triaging.

Is this a normal experience with Canberra Hospital outpatients service?

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18 Responses to Canberra Hospital, waiting over a month for triage
#1
Bennop10:18 am, 26 Jan 13

Going out on a limb here, but from my experiences with outpatient services, xmas periods, and getting triaged, basically you hit the perfect storm. The Drs and processes involved in assessing your urgency, and providing an appointment, will have been probably shut down over xmas, and everything put in a holding pattern. S*** happens.

#2
dungfungus11:48 am, 26 Jan 13

It’s normal, but over the festive season, the health bureacrats declare that everyone will be healthy so the outpatients services cease to exist. This extends the waiting time and also puts further strain on the ED.
You should bite the bullet and get private cover although this won’t guarantee you services over the festive season either.
The “free” public health system appears to be overused by the sector that does not pay the Medicare levy and as there are minimal bulk billing GP services available in Canberra they turn up at ED for services that could normally be provided by a GP. These people need to contribute a co-payment for anything other than emergency matters. Most of them can afford $20 for a packet of fags so another $20 for treatment isn’t too much to ask.

#3
Danman1:42 pm, 26 Jan 13

A month ? Cry me a river – I’ve been triaged for just a specialist appointment for a hernia for over 3 months. My referral was submitted with scans to show that it is indeed a fatty tissue hernia – and was told to expect a 6 month wait for just a consult.

As far as I know this is just how it is with the public elective surgery system – besides which, its free yeah, so its worth waiting for – I’m in no pain, or dire straits, just get the occasional moment where I have to push it back in after too much bending over and picking up heavy things like kids.

#4
thegirl1:59 pm, 26 Jan 13

I have had the opposite experience. I’m a regular patient at a Canberra Hospital outpatient clinic and in about September was told I needed a new referral before my next appointment because the old one had expired. So I spent $80 seeing my GP to get a new referral but have never been asked for the referral since (I would have had 2 or 3 appointments since then). Weird.

I could write an essay about the lengthy and strange beauracratic processes at the hospital. I hope you get your appointment soon.

#5
poppy3:38 pm, 26 Jan 13

dungfungus said :

You should bite the bullet and get private cover although this won’t guarantee you services over the festive season either.

The problem is that the private system does not really cater for my problem. It’s not a matter of not being able to pay.

#6
poppy3:47 pm, 26 Jan 13

Danman said :

A month ? Cry me a river – I’ve been triaged for just a specialist appointment for a hernia for over 3 months. My referral was submitted with scans to show that it is indeed a fatty tissue hernia – and was told to expect a 6 month wait for just a consult.

As far as I know this is just how it is with the public elective surgery system – besides which, its free yeah, so its worth waiting for – I’m in no pain, or dire straits, just get the occasional moment where I have to push it back in after too much bending over and picking up heavy things like kids.

As I tried to make clear in my post, I am not complaining about having to wait to see a specialist (and it is just a consult NOT a surgery). I fully understand and accept that I may wait many months for my appointment, even though as an existing patient it should be shorter for me. The problem is that it should not take over a month to simply triage a referral and allocate an appointment some time in the future. If a patient did have an emergency, waiting a month for triage is ridiculous.

#7
Tetranitrate5:46 pm, 26 Jan 13

poppy said :

Danman said :

A month ? Cry me a river – I’ve been triaged for just a specialist appointment for a hernia for over 3 months. My referral was submitted with scans to show that it is indeed a fatty tissue hernia – and was told to expect a 6 month wait for just a consult.

As far as I know this is just how it is with the public elective surgery system – besides which, its free yeah, so its worth waiting for – I’m in no pain, or dire straits, just get the occasional moment where I have to push it back in after too much bending over and picking up heavy things like kids.

As I tried to make clear in my post, I am not complaining about having to wait to see a specialist (and it is just a consult NOT a surgery). I fully understand and accept that I may wait many months for my appointment, even though as an existing patient it should be shorter for me. The problem is that it should not take over a month to simply triage a referral and allocate an appointment some time in the future. If a patient did have an emergency, waiting a month for triage is ridiculous.

Absolutely. No question. And there’s a similar issue with the emergency rooms too, as I’ve repeatedly brought up in other threads.

#8
Squidward6:11 pm, 26 Jan 13

poppy said :

Danman said :

A month ? Cry me a river – I’ve been triaged for just a specialist appointment for a hernia for over 3 months. My referral was submitted with scans to show that it is indeed a fatty tissue hernia – and was told to expect a 6 month wait for just a consult.

As far as I know this is just how it is with the public elective surgery system – besides which, its free yeah, so its worth waiting for – I’m in no pain, or dire straits, just get the occasional moment where I have to push it back in after too much bending over and picking up heavy things like kids.

As I tried to make clear in my post, I am not complaining about having to wait to see a specialist (and it is just a consult NOT a surgery). I fully understand and accept that I may wait many months for my appointment, even though as an existing patient it should be shorter for me. The problem is that it should not take over a month to simply triage a referral and allocate an appointment some time in the future. If a patient did have an emergency, waiting a month for triage is ridiculous.

If a patient had an emergency they wouldnt be waiting… Simple.

#9
Tetranitrate11:39 pm, 26 Jan 13

Squidward said :

If a patient had an emergency they wouldnt be waiting… Simple.

Oh look, another imbecile who doesn’t understand what triage is and why it’s a problem that triage isn’t happening in a timely fashion.

Let me spell it out for you: Triage is when they decide if it’s an emergency. It’s when they assign priorities. Nobody has made any decision about how urgent OP’s matter is because the OP hasn’t been triaged at all, which was the whole point of their post, one that you somehow seem to have missed.

#10
Squidward2:23 pm, 27 Jan 13

Tetranitrate said :

Squidward said :

If a patient had an emergency they wouldnt be waiting… Simple.

Oh look, another imbecile who doesn’t understand what triage is and why it’s a problem that triage isn’t happening in a timely fashion.

Let me spell it out for you: Triage is when they decide if it’s an emergency. It’s when they assign priorities. Nobody has made any decision about how urgent OP’s matter is because the OP hasn’t been triaged at all, which was the whole point of their post, one that you somehow seem to have missed.

Where do you get the letter of referral from? A GP, the GP will decide if its an emergency life or death situation and if so send you straight to hospital. If you will survive slightly longer than that, a referral is what you get. I think some people have forgotten the difference between emergency, urgent, and self entitlement.

#11
1337Hax0r3:06 pm, 27 Jan 13

I have been on the waiting list at the Canberra Hospital for over a year for minor surgery. It has gotten to the point that I am considering just buying a scalpel and doing it myself. I can clean the skin surface pretty easily, but finding a product to anesthetize the skin has proven difficult. I was thinking of inviting along the media to embarrass the hell out of both the hospital and local government. Bloody third world heath services in this territory if you ask me.

#12
JimCharles9:14 pm, 27 Jan 13

1337Hax0r said :

I have been on the waiting list at the Canberra Hospital for over a year for minor surgery. It has gotten to the point that I am considering just buying a scalpel and doing it myself. I can clean the skin surface pretty easily, but finding a product to anesthetize the skin has proven difficult. .

Rubbish, Canberra is awash with cocaine !
http://the-riotact.com/canberra-paved-with-gold-and-awash-with-cocaine/93302

#13
poppy9:39 pm, 27 Jan 13

Squidward said :

Where do you get the letter of referral from? A GP, the GP will decide if its an emergency life or death situation and if so send you straight to hospital. If you will survive slightly longer than that, a referral is what you get. I think some people have forgotten the difference between emergency, urgent, and self entitlement.

So, you don’t think there are or should be options in between going to A & E and waiting months for your referral to be even looked at and assigned a priority? People do get problems that aren’t immediately life threatening, but should be seen within a couple of days/weeks. I have previously been given referrals from primary health care providers that they have faxed to specialists (not at Canberra Hospital), the specialist or their staff has looked at them within a couple of days and decided that I should be seen within a couple of weeks, and shouldn’t wait the normal 3- 6 months. In this case my problem isn’t an emergency, but I do think my referral should have been triaged within a couple of weeks, and outcome advised to me. At least when informed promptly, the patient can consider other options if need be.

#14
Squidward10:14 pm, 27 Jan 13

poppy said :

Squidward said :

Where do you get the letter of referral from? A GP, the GP will decide if its an emergency life or death situation and if so send you straight to hospital. If you will survive slightly longer than that, a referral is what you get. I think some people have forgotten the difference between emergency, urgent, and self entitlement.

So, you don’t think there are or should be options in between going to A & E and waiting months for your referral to be even looked at and assigned a priority? People do get problems that aren’t immediately life threatening, but should be seen within a couple of days/weeks. I have previously been given referrals from primary health care providers that they have faxed to specialists (not at Canberra Hospital), the specialist or their staff has looked at them within a couple of days and decided that I should be seen within a couple of weeks, and shouldn’t wait the normal 3- 6 months. In this case my problem isn’t an emergency, but I do think my referral should have been triaged within a couple of weeks, and outcome advised to me. At least when informed promptly, the patient can consider other options if need be.

I agree with you 100%
I was just stating to the other poster that in a true life or death emergency they wouldn’t have to wait.

#15
steveu2:09 pm, 28 Jan 13

dungfungus said :

The “free” public health system appears to be overused by the sector that does not pay the Medicare levy and as there are minimal bulk billing GP services available in Canberra they turn up at ED for services that could normally be provided by a GP. These people need to contribute a co-payment for anything other than emergency matters. Most of them can afford $20 for a packet of fags so another $20 for treatment isn’t too much to ask.

Spot on.

I have doubts the local council would have the intestinal fortitude to implement such a sensible suggestion.

#16
JC5:07 pm, 28 Jan 13

1337Hax0r said :

I have been on the waiting list at the Canberra Hospital for over a year for minor surgery. It has gotten to the point that I am considering just buying a scalpel and doing it myself. I can clean the skin surface pretty easily, but finding a product to anesthetize the skin has proven difficult. I was thinking of inviting along the media to embarrass the hell out of both the hospital and local government. Bloody third world heath services in this territory if you ask me.

Clearly you are waiting for surgery that is NOT life threatening. Maybe not good you need to wait, but it is hardly third world. In the third world you maybe, get this have to pay for the surgery rather than it being free like it is here, and being the third world you probably couldn’t afford it anyway.

I have found in this country if you need surgery right there and then you get it. Recent example my mum who went under the knife 4 weeks ago. She needed surgery and she got it. She was looked after in the hospital until she was well enough to go home (which took about 10 days) and since she has been home has been looked after by the hospital in the home team. To start with the old girl was filthy and cynical when she was sent home, but now understands the reason for it and is very appreciative of the car she has received.

So hardly 3rd world, to me your issue is a first world problem, you expect something for free and expect it right now when reality is medical care is finite, they have to prioritise which means some have to wait. Throwing more money at it isn’t the answer either.

#17
DrKoresh8:30 pm, 28 Jan 13

JC said :

To start with the old girl was filthy and cynical when she was sent home, but now understands the reason for it and is very appreciative of the car she has received.

They didn’t give me a car when I broke my leg… :’(

#18
JC4:45 pm, 29 Jan 13

DrKoresh said :

JC said :

To start with the old girl was filthy and cynical when she was sent home, but now understands the reason for it and is very appreciative of the car she has received.

They didn’t give me a car when I broke my leg… :’(

OMG I reckon you have been diddled by the Chief Minister. Maybe you should complain about how poor the health service is.

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