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Hospital waiting lists set to grow

6 January 2012
Waiting lists for elective surgery will grow this year according to the latest agreements between public hospitals and the Minister for Health.
“Growing elective surgery waiting lists at Victorian public hospitals are a major concern for patients and doctors,” said AMA Victoria President Dr Harry Hemley. “Patients waiting for surgery often suffer from pain and disability, and can have a reduced quality of life. Far from being elective, this is essential surgery.”
Dr Hemley’s comments followed the publication of the annual Health Service Statements of Priorities. These are the key accountability agreements for public hospitals and detail the funding they receive from the Department of Health and expected service delivery levels including elective surgery targets.
“These agreements show that over 7,500 patients have been added to elective surgery waiting list targets at the major Victorian public hospitals – an increase of over 20%,” said Dr Hemley.
“The agreements also reveal that public hospitals plan to admit over 9,000 fewer patients from the elective surgery waiting lists.
“These decreased hospital targets are concerning. With a growing and ageing population demand for elective surgery is increasing. Hospitals should be performing more elective surgery – not less.
“This year’s increased targets mean that even more patients will be stuck on waiting lists and are likely to miss out on care in clinically appropriate times.
“This is because there simply aren’t enough beds in Victoria’s health system to treat those in need of care. If there is nowhere for the patient to recover after the operation, the surgery has to be postponed.
“This year’s Statements of Priorities show that most hospitals have received overall funding increases. This investment of funds by the Government is welcome and long overdue.
“The Government has committed to increasing bed capacity in the public hospital system including delivering 100 new beds in its first year in office. It is time for the Government to reveal when and where these beds will be delivered."

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