BHI: Record blowouts and backlogs for all elective surgeries in Illawarra and South Coast

Bureau of Health Information (BHI) figures show that from July to September, the state-wide waitlist for elective surgery was more than 95 thousand patients. That’s an increase of 11.8 per cent compared to the same time last year and means an extra 10 thousand people are waiting in pain for surgery.

In the Illawarra and Shoalhaven, the figures show:

  • Over one in four elective surgeries (28.2 per cent) were not performed within clinical recommended timeframes
  • Median wait times for non-urgent elective surgery blew out around a month to 359 days
  • One in 10 patients waited 482 days for non-urgent elective surgery

And in Southern NSW:

  • Median wait-times for non-urgent elective surgery in southern NSW blew out 110 days to 256 days
  • One in 10 patients in southern NSW waited 429 days for non-urgent elective surgery
  • In the South East median wait times are as high as 377 days for non-urgent elective surgery

Wollongong Hospital also recorded the longest median wait-time (four hours and 3 minutes) in all of the State’s emergency departments. Over half of patients spend over four hours in the emergency department.

The figures come just two days before submissions to Parliamentary Inquiry into rural and regional health in NSW close.

The Shadow Minister for Health Ryan Park said it’s important the inquiry hears from health professionals and locals, ahead of public hearings next year.

“These figures are a result of a decade of neglect and under resourcing. Quarter after quarter, we have seen blowouts and backlogs. It has to stop. Health outcomes should not be determined by postcodes,” Mr Park said.

The Shadow Minister for Rural Health Kate Washington encouraged communities to come together to fight for change.

“It’s about equality, fairness and a fundamental right to healthcare. These figures are appalling and they have little to do with the elective surgery suspension earlier this year. The Government can’t continue to hide behind the impact of COVID-19. This crisis has been years in the making,” Ms Washington said.

The Member for Wollongong Paul Scully said: “These figures aren’t just numbers on a spreadsheet, they are people who are waiting for hip or knee replacements, eye surgery or in Wollongong Hospital’s Emergency Department for hours at a time. The Berejiklian Government cannot dismiss this as COVID pressure, this is pressure that has built at Wollongong Hospital under this government.”

The Member for Shellharbour Anna Watson said: “The Government needs to urgently do more to address the elective surgery backlog. Even when the new Shellhabour Hospital is built, it will still take years to alleviate pressure on the local public health system, which is already struggling to cope with the region’s booming population.”

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