Hunter waiting periods still too long

The Newcastle Herald

Hunter patients are still waiting more than 200 days in some cases for much-needed elective surgeries, despite  hospitals making solid ground in attempts to improve wait times.

Figures released last week in the Bureau of Health Information Hospital Quarterly show some Hunter patients wait the better part of a year to have cataracts removed or hip and knee replacements.

NSW Nurses’ Association Hunter organiser Matt Byrne said theatre staff at John Hunter Hospital were run off their feet.

‘‘I’m surprised the place hasn’t collapsed,’’ he said.

He said the situation was complicated in that orthopaedic surgery patients often needed longer recovery times and nurses and ward beds were needed to facilitate that.

Hunter New England Health acute networks operations director Todd McEwan said Hunter New England Health performed more than 6340 elective surgery procedures in the quarter, which was  more than any other NSW Local Health District.

He said a key performance indicator for elective surgery was the percentage of patients treated within clinician-recommended time frames.

‘‘The report showed that 95per cent of our patients got their elective surgery on time, which is equal to the NSW average,’’ he said.

Mr McEwan said the majority of cases of ophthalmology and orthopaedic surgery were classified not urgent, but made up a quarter of all elective surgeries. 

‘‘The vast majority of these elective surgeries were performed within their clinical benchmarks,’’ he said.

‘‘The small number which were not, received their surgery within one month of this timeframe.’’

Waits for orthopaedic surgery decreased at Belmont, Cessnock, John Hunter, Maitland and Singleton hospitals in the quarter. 

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