Over 2,500 patients in Cairns will benefit from the Palaszczuk Government’s elective surgery blitz, announced earlier this month to get non-urgent surgeries back on track following COVID-19.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Steven Miles said Queensland suspended non-urgent elective surgeries following Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s announcement that all states and territories would stop non-urgent procedures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We were incredibly lucky that Cairns was largely spared from the effects of the pandemic, with the region only reporting around 37 of Queensland’s 1066 cases in the last six months,” Mr Miles said.
“Still, we had to prepare for the worst-case scenarios that we have seen play out in China, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States.
“Now, we’re in the very fortunate position of focusing on recovery.
“We know that for our regions kick starting elective surgery is part of Queensland’s plan to unite and recover.”
Member for Cairns Michael Healy said it was critical to concentrate all necessary resources on keeping Queenslanders safe.
“Now that we have worked to flatten the curve, our hardworking health care staff can get back to delivering non-urgent care for people in Cairns and Far North Queensland,” Mr Healy said.
Member for Barron River Craig Crawford said Cairns and Hinterland HHS would move to provide non-urgent procedures outside of regular hours and continue to work in partnership with the private sector.
“Our hospitals will be able to work through the backlog at a much faster pace, and that’s largely also thanks to everyone in Far North Queensland,” she said.
“Far North Queenslanders were asked to work with us to flatten the curve, and you all delivered above and beyond our expectations.”
Member for Mulgrave and the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Queensland Curtis Pitt said prior to the pandemic, most Queenslanders were receiving their elective surgery within clinically recommended timeframes.
“Thanks to the dedication of Queenslanders we are fortunate that we can start to relax restrictions,” Mr Pitt said.
“Our work isn’t finished yet. Let’s keep working as a team to get through this together.”
Member for Cook Cynthia Lui said the funding would make a real difference to the community.
“Access to care is critical for a state as decentralised as ours, and a community like mine. This money will be invested in our regions as well as our cities,” she said.
Prior to the pandemic, the majority of Queenslanders were receiving their elective surgery within clinically recommended timeframes, with 94 per cent of Category One, Two and Three patients operated on within the clinically appropriate time.
Category One surgeries – elective procedures for Queenslanders needing urgent care – remained steady during the pandemic, with approximately 4,000 category one patients seen each month.
As of 1 June, there were 52,240 patients ready for their surgery on elective surgery lists – more than 90 per cent of those were waiting within clinically recommended timeframes.
However, our modelling indicates that we could potentially have more than 7,000 people waiting longer than clinically recommended by 1 July 2020 as a result of the pandemic.
Around 20 per cent of those were projected to come from the North Queensland region.