Over 700 patients in Townsville will benefit from the Queensland 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 Health suspended non-urgent elective surgery following Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s announcement that all states and territories would stop non-urgent procedures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was critical to concentrate all necessary resources on keeping Queenslanders safe,” Mr Miles said.
“We were incredibly lucky that Townsville was largely spared from the effects of the pandemic, with the area only reporting around 24 of Queensland’s 1067 cases in the last six months.
“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.”
Member for Mundingburra Coralee O’Rourke said we are now in the very fortunate position of focusing on recovery.
“We know that for our regions that is a particularly important step,” Ms O’Rourke said.
“Access to care is critical for a state as decentralised as ours, and this money will be invested in our regions as well as our cities.”
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.
Member for Thuringowa Aaron Harper said early modelling indicated 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,” Mr Harper said.
“Hospitals will move to provide non-urgent procedures outside of regular hours and continue to work in partnership with the private sector.”
Member for Townsville Scott Stewart said the investment was already having positive impacts on the community.
“With this funding boost our hospitals will be able to get back to pre-COVID levels of elective surgery much sooner than planned, and we will be able to work through the backlog at a much faster pace,” Mr Stewart said.
“We needed to flatten the curve during this pandemic, and Townsville, alongside all of Queensland delivered above and beyond our expectations.
“Now it’s time for us to give back to Townsville.”
Wait list number are expected to peak towards the end of June but may now start trending down by next month given the new investment.