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Health Directorate comes out swinging on waiting times

By johnboy - 14 November 2013 12

I’m not sure what kicked it off but for a departmental media release Health’s latest effort is unusually fiesty:

“Contrary to the allegations made today about waiting lists for elective surgery, at the end of October 2013 the number of people waiting with extended waiting times is the lowest on record at 618, down from 922 in March when we first introduced this process,” Dr Peggy Brown, Director General of ACT Health said.

“ACT Health has been working with both hospitals to improve access to elective surgery and reduce the time people wait for surgery.

“To do this we have implemented a process that focuses on providing access to surgery for people with long waiting times, while also increasing access for people before they become ‘long waits’.

“This is at the same time as we are recording our best results for patients seen within recommended waiting times (with 98% of people in the most urgent category seen on time).

“Comments made today by the Visiting Medical Officer’s Association are misleading and false.

“Had the VMO’s Association spoken first to ACT Health, we would have been able to take them through the process and explain the rationale behind it. Instead they have sought to grandstand and reduce the confidence of the community in our health system, despite obvious success in reducing overall waiting times.

“We would also have been able to advise them that this in keeping with the objectives of the National Health Reform, Dr Brown concluded.

UPDATE: The plot thickens as the Liberals spot data tampering:

The Canberra Liberals are demanding the ACT Government launch a fully independent investigation following claims by surgeons that patients are being left to suffer on elective surgery waiting lists to make the Government’s books look better, Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Hanson said today.

“Today I’m calling on the ACT Government to show there is nothing to hide by launching an independent investigation,” Mr Hanson said.

“I’m calling on the Government to table the draft terms of reference for this investigation by the last sitting day of 2013 and to have an interim report ready by the first sitting of the Legislative Assembly in 2014.

“It’s nothing short of disgusting if ACT Labor is deliberately forcing patients to suffer for longer than they have to on elective surgery waiting lists, just so the Government can improve its books.

“ACT Labor has a history of manipulating both elective surgery and emergency department waiting times and we must get to the bottom of why patients are having to wait lengthy periods for surgery.

“Canberra residents rely on the Government to put them first in health. We must have this investigation to make sure no-one is being left behind on waiting lists,” Mr Hanson concluded.

What’s Your opinion?


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12 Responses to
Health Directorate comes out swinging on waiting times
rommeldog56 8:08 am 26 Oct 14

JimCharles said :

wildturkeycanoe said :

I think we will see the ED waiting times grow if my experience from yesterday is anything to go by.
Leaving work at lunchtime due to sciatic pain I went to the local GP clinic. The car park was surprisingly empty so I was optimistic about not having to wait too long. There were quite a few folks in the waiting room but nobody lined up, so again I thought it might be a quick visit. How wrong I was. Two of the doctors had just finished for the day, leaving only one to fend off the patients for the next two hours before afternoon shift arrived. There were 74 people ahead of me. Seventy four patients for one doctor! I said I’d come back tomorrow.
I could manage my symptoms for another day, but for someone who has urgent need to see a GP and can’t wait for three to four hours for the service the ED is the only available option. Sure the wait times might be just as long, but at least they prioritize cases triage fashion instead of putting you into the end of the queue.
The sheer lack of doctors for the number of sick people only makes the emergency department become a prime target for minor ailments, as booking in a week ahead or waiting for half a day is not an option for some. For instance, if I needed a doctor’s certificate for yesterday, I cannot get that today because some doctors will not backdate, simply due to the fact that they cannot say with certainty that you were ill yesterday as they had not examined you. Our country’s health care is only getting worse by the hour, even now with the government cutting back on funding for testing such as X-rays, MRIs and the like. They were already unaffordable and now destined to become a luxury for rich people.

It’s a strange scenario with the Walk In Centre now closed, ostensibly because they were accidentally attracting patients who they couldn’t treat, who were then walking the road to ED and they weren’t real “emergencies”.
If the problem was (and still is) that these patients are falling in the unserviced gap between a cut finger and a real emergency, why hasn’t an aspiring GP set up base across the road from the hospital?

Years ago, I had occasion to take a child to the “Canberra After Hours Locum Medical Service” (CALMS) – they are at the Canberra Hospital in Woden and open till 11pm. A good service. But, you get to it through the Emergency Dept enterence ! Would be interesting to see the demographics of those presenting at the Emergency Dep’t, ages, where they live, what they were seeking treatment for, etc. If other States have largely solved the isue, then it’s beyond weird that the ACT Gov’t can not also solve it here. aside, of course, assuming that we actually have enough emergency beds/facilities/doctors/nurses, equipment, etc for the population the Hospitals are serving in the ACT.

m_ratt 11:25 pm 25 Oct 14

wildturkeycanoe said :

I could manage my symptoms for another day

So why did you present at the ED rather than seeing a GP?

JimCharles said :

It’s a strange scenario with the Walk In Centre now closed

It’s not closed – it’s relocated and expanded. Now open in Belconnen and Tuggeranong.

dungfungus 9:31 pm 25 Oct 14

JimCharles said :

wildturkeycanoe said :

I think we will see the ED waiting times grow if my experience from yesterday is anything to go by.
Leaving work at lunchtime due to sciatic pain I went to the local GP clinic. The car park was surprisingly empty so I was optimistic about not having to wait too long. There were quite a few folks in the waiting room but nobody lined up, so again I thought it might be a quick visit. How wrong I was. Two of the doctors had just finished for the day, leaving only one to fend off the patients for the next two hours before afternoon shift arrived. There were 74 people ahead of me. Seventy four patients for one doctor! I said I’d come back tomorrow.
I could manage my symptoms for another day, but for someone who has urgent need to see a GP and can’t wait for three to four hours for the service the ED is the only available option. Sure the wait times might be just as long, but at least they prioritize cases triage fashion instead of putting you into the end of the queue.
The sheer lack of doctors for the number of sick people only makes the emergency department become a prime target for minor ailments, as booking in a week ahead or waiting for half a day is not an option for some. For instance, if I needed a doctor’s certificate for yesterday, I cannot get that today because some doctors will not backdate, simply due to the fact that they cannot say with certainty that you were ill yesterday as they had not examined you. Our country’s health care is only getting worse by the hour, even now with the government cutting back on funding for testing such as X-rays, MRIs and the like. They were already unaffordable and now destined to become a luxury for rich people.

It’s a strange scenario with the Walk In Centre now closed, ostensibly because they were accidentally attracting patients who they couldn’t treat, who were then walking the road to ED and they weren’t real “emergencies”.
If the problem was (and still is) that these patients are falling in the unserviced gap between a cut finger and a real emergency, why hasn’t an aspiring GP set up base across the road from the hospital?

Well, CALMS is already in the hospital – about 50 metres from ED.
Unfortunately, it is not free and some people won’t dip into their beer/ciggie/pokie money for anything when they can get it for free. These are the same people who are urged by the socialists to refuse the concept of paying a small co-payment which would help provide the funding that our “free” health care system requires so desperately.

JimCharles 5:46 pm 25 Oct 14

wildturkeycanoe said :

I think we will see the ED waiting times grow if my experience from yesterday is anything to go by.
Leaving work at lunchtime due to sciatic pain I went to the local GP clinic. The car park was surprisingly empty so I was optimistic about not having to wait too long. There were quite a few folks in the waiting room but nobody lined up, so again I thought it might be a quick visit. How wrong I was. Two of the doctors had just finished for the day, leaving only one to fend off the patients for the next two hours before afternoon shift arrived. There were 74 people ahead of me. Seventy four patients for one doctor! I said I’d come back tomorrow.
I could manage my symptoms for another day, but for someone who has urgent need to see a GP and can’t wait for three to four hours for the service the ED is the only available option. Sure the wait times might be just as long, but at least they prioritize cases triage fashion instead of putting you into the end of the queue.
The sheer lack of doctors for the number of sick people only makes the emergency department become a prime target for minor ailments, as booking in a week ahead or waiting for half a day is not an option for some. For instance, if I needed a doctor’s certificate for yesterday, I cannot get that today because some doctors will not backdate, simply due to the fact that they cannot say with certainty that you were ill yesterday as they had not examined you. Our country’s health care is only getting worse by the hour, even now with the government cutting back on funding for testing such as X-rays, MRIs and the like. They were already unaffordable and now destined to become a luxury for rich people.

It’s a strange scenario with the Walk In Centre now closed, ostensibly because they were accidentally attracting patients who they couldn’t treat, who were then walking the road to ED and they weren’t real “emergencies”.
If the problem was (and still is) that these patients are falling in the unserviced gap between a cut finger and a real emergency, why hasn’t an aspiring GP set up base across the road from the hospital?

wildturkeycanoe 6:43 am 25 Oct 14

I think we will see the ED waiting times grow if my experience from yesterday is anything to go by.
Leaving work at lunchtime due to sciatic pain I went to the local GP clinic. The car park was surprisingly empty so I was optimistic about not having to wait too long. There were quite a few folks in the waiting room but nobody lined up, so again I thought it might be a quick visit. How wrong I was. Two of the doctors had just finished for the day, leaving only one to fend off the patients for the next two hours before afternoon shift arrived. There were 74 people ahead of me. Seventy four patients for one doctor! I said I’d come back tomorrow.
I could manage my symptoms for another day, but for someone who has urgent need to see a GP and can’t wait for three to four hours for the service the ED is the only available option. Sure the wait times might be just as long, but at least they prioritize cases triage fashion instead of putting you into the end of the queue.
The sheer lack of doctors for the number of sick people only makes the emergency department become a prime target for minor ailments, as booking in a week ahead or waiting for half a day is not an option for some. For instance, if I needed a doctor’s certificate for yesterday, I cannot get that today because some doctors will not backdate, simply due to the fact that they cannot say with certainty that you were ill yesterday as they had not examined you. Our country’s health care is only getting worse by the hour, even now with the government cutting back on funding for testing such as X-rays, MRIs and the like. They were already unaffordable and now destined to become a luxury for rich people.

Grimm 2:01 pm 24 Oct 14

Waiting lists for elective surgery? That’s a week or two last time I checked?

Oh, I see, we are complaining again that people getting elective surgery for free have to wait? Another case of getting what you pay for.

The houso sense of entitlement is still strong. The fact elective surgery is free in this country at all should be enough.

dungfungus 11:01 am 24 Oct 14

There are some major billing problems at ACT Ambulance Service. Accounts are simply not being sent out. This must be costing heaps with the average ambulance call out fee about $800.

poetix 10:36 pm 15 Nov 13

Feisty, not fiesty. ‘Tis an exception to that ‘i’ before ‘e’ rule.

Erg0 2:48 pm 14 Nov 13

Deref said :

Considering that they haven’t fixed the problem that allowed the initial data tampering, it’s certainly possible that they’ve done it again.

No need for lax controls, they’ve been “reclassifying” patients for years to keep the numbers down.

Deref 1:24 pm 14 Nov 13

Considering that they haven’t fixed the problem that allowed the initial data tampering, it’s certainly possible that they’ve done it again.

Thumper 12:08 pm 14 Nov 13

More claims of dodgy figures?

Neva….

HiddenDragon 11:37 am 14 Nov 13

“We will decide who comes to our public hospitals and the circumstances in which they come!”

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