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Elective surgery ‘blitz’ to address long waits

By Charlotte Harper - 25 November 2015 13

Simon Corbell

The ACT Government has announced an elective surgery “blitz” in the first half of 2016 that will see the city’s surgeons perform an extra 1000 procedures in a bid to reduce the number of long-wait patients in the territory.

ACT Minister for Health Simon Corbell said the Government would direct $11.8 million towards the program in order to reduce the overall number of elective surgery patients waiting longer than clinically recommended. He said ACT Health was committed to strategies that would prevent the waiting lists getting this high in the future, too.

The program will see increased elective surgery at Canberra and Calvary hospitals and the use of private hospitals to undertake procedures that cannot be accommodated at the public facilities.

The blitz will be funded through cross-border revenues in 2015-16, which are expected to exceed budget by the required amount, according to Mr Corbell. Cross-border revenues are funds the ACT Government receives to cover the cost of treating non-ACT residents in its health facilities, the bulk of which comes through an agreement with the New South Wales Ministry of Health.

Patients who will receive surgeries as part of the blitz will be contacted by the hospital “in due course”.

“The government understands how important it is for people to receive their surgeries within the recommended timeframe and these extra surgeries will help us drastically cut our waiting list,” Mr Corbell said.

“ACT Health established a surgical taskforce to develop strategies to improve theatre utilisation and make better use of the surgical resources available in order to tackle what has been a long-time challenge in the ACT. “

There are more than 1200 current long wait elective surgery patients in the ACT, the majority of them waiting for orthopaedic, urology and ear, nose and throat surgeries.

ACT public hospitals provided 11,875 elective surgery procedures in 2014-15, the highest number of elective surgery procedures ever performed in a year and the fifth consecutive year of more than 11,000 elective surgeries.

“Despite increasing the number of elective surgeries performed each year the growth in the ACT’s population combined with the ageing population has resulted in increased demand,” Mr Corbell said.

“Meeting the demand in health services is a major priority for the government and taking these important steps now to reduce our long-wait list will also help improve our ongoing management of waiting lists.”

“There will be a realignment of territory-wide surgical services to ensure optimal value of theatre utilisation across Canberra, and booking procedures and engagement with surgeons will be reviewed to ensure the longer term sustainability of the system,” he said.

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13 Responses to
Elective surgery ‘blitz’ to address long waits
KJ2016 10:13 pm 08 Feb 16

A significant problem they have created for themselves is that there was nothing implemented to cope with the *follow-ups* of these additional 1000 surgeries. Operate on people to reduce the surgical waitlist, sure; but how do you expect to review them?

wildturkeycanoe 2:55 pm 27 Nov 15

JC said :

wildturkeycanoe said :

Apparently it isn’t the number of neurosurgeons that is the problem. I’ve been told it is because of the lack of scheduled times allocated to theater, plus triage procedures that cause the delays.

So why is it taking upwards of a year to get an appointment to see a neurosurgeon? And not talking about getting an operation, talking about an appointment in their office to be assessed?

Through the public system, that is the wait I have been told by the outpatient clinic. Ridiculous or what? I cannot get in to see a pain specialist for the same period. Ridiculous. In the meantime, my GP is worrying about my long term narcotic use with no alternatives. Our health system sucks.

JC 9:29 am 27 Nov 15

wildturkeycanoe said :

Apparently it isn’t the number of neurosurgeons that is the problem. I’ve been told it is because of the lack of scheduled times allocated to theater, plus triage procedures that cause the delays.

So why is it taking upwards of a year to get an appointment to see a neurosurgeon? And not talking about getting an operation, talking about an appointment in their office to be assessed?

wildturkeycanoe 6:34 am 27 Nov 15

watto23 said :

Could be worse and pay thousands a year into a health fund only to be told if you want to use it you will need to pay a gap of $10-20k or even more.

Bit of a disincentive to have private health cover eh? Could’ve saved that money by staying with Medicare only and had the surgery done already, privately.

JC said :

That said what is the solution? Neurosurgeons don’t grow on trees and I am sure you don’t want a orthopaedic surgeon looking after you.

Apparently it isn’t the number of neurosurgeons that is the problem. I’ve been told it is because of the lack of scheduled times allocated to theater, plus triage procedures that cause the delays. If they had more theater staff and equipment then the neurosurgeons could perform more operations. Have you looked at how many they do in a month? It is like a massive 8 surgeries or some such figure. Talk about being under the pump.

JC 12:35 am 27 Nov 15

TuggLife said :

I am clearly not that clever – if the system is able to increase the number of surgeries it performs by 8%, why is it operating under-capacity the rest of the time?

Rather than performing a blitz, wouldn’t it be better to regularly contract private hospitals to perform elective surgeries (particularly day surgeries) on behalf of the public system to smooth the effects, or better yet, fund and design a public system to cope with the demand?

Core issue is the availability of surgeons and anaesthetists rather than money and facilities (theatre and ward space). And your suggestion of using private doesn’t really work because it is the same core group of people working both private and public.

Maybe what we need is some 457 visa surgeons to pick up the slack.

TuggLife 3:48 pm 26 Nov 15

I am clearly not that clever – if the system is able to increase the number of surgeries it performs by 8%, why is it operating under-capacity the rest of the time?

Rather than performing a blitz, wouldn’t it be better to regularly contract private hospitals to perform elective surgeries (particularly day surgeries) on behalf of the public system to smooth the effects, or better yet, fund and design a public system to cope with the demand?

JC 2:50 pm 26 Nov 15

wildturkeycanoe said :

Not much good for me. Been waiting over 6 months to see a neurosurgeon in order to get onto the waiting list! Could be 12 months more just to get into the queue which could be another 12 months. In the meantime, my “elective” surgery leaves me unable to work, dosed up on pain killers and has put my entire life on hold. I hope some of those 1000 people having body enhancements or other non life halting conditions sleep better knowing others are suffering due to their deep pockets.

Feel your pain, my old mum had two TIA’s (mini strokes) in the space of a couple of months and like you is trying to get into see the neurosurgeon, but appointments are very very hard to come by. All the while she could have another stroke that may well finish her off or leave her needing to go into care.

That said what is the solution? Neurosurgeons don’t grow on trees and I am sure you don’t want a orthopaedic surgeon looking after you.

Grimm 12:57 pm 26 Nov 15

Weird. My daughter had elective surgery. Saw the GP, specialist a few days after that, and surgery done the next week….

Don’t know what all the fuss is about.

dungfungus 12:55 pm 26 Nov 15

dlenihan said :

A jaded person would probably wonder if there is an election coming up on the next year or so!

I am both jaded and cynical.

watto23 12:06 pm 26 Nov 15

wildturkeycanoe said :

Not much good for me. Been waiting over 6 months to see a neurosurgeon in order to get onto the waiting list! Could be 12 months more just to get into the queue which could be another 12 months. In the meantime, my “elective” surgery leaves me unable to work, dosed up on pain killers and has put my entire life on hold. I hope some of those 1000 people having body enhancements or other non life halting conditions sleep better knowing others are suffering due to their deep pockets.

Could be worse and pay thousands a year into a health fund only to be told if you want to use it you will need to pay a gap of $10-20k or even more. There are definite issues with the health system and no political party is really able to fix it. Also body enhancements are generally not done in the public system by the same surgeons that save lives. I feel for your situation though, I’m not sure that if you put more money into the system whether it would help or just be soaked up in wasted funding.

wildturkeycanoe 8:16 am 26 Nov 15

Not much good for me. Been waiting over 6 months to see a neurosurgeon in order to get onto the waiting list! Could be 12 months more just to get into the queue which could be another 12 months. In the meantime, my “elective” surgery leaves me unable to work, dosed up on pain killers and has put my entire life on hold. I hope some of those 1000 people having body enhancements or other non life halting conditions sleep better knowing others are suffering due to their deep pockets.

rommeldog56 7:58 pm 25 Nov 15

Great to hear, but its just as well there is an election coming up isn’t it. One wouldn’t want to go to the people with that surgery backlog weighting one down.

Next thing u know, all the grass around town will be cut too……….

dlenihan 6:19 pm 25 Nov 15

A jaded person would probably wonder if there is an election coming up on the next year or so!

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