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News & Trends - MedTech & Diagnostics

15-fold surge in elective surgery wait times serves as a wake-up call to NSW government

Health Industry Hub | May 9, 2023 |

MedTech & Diagnostics News: New South Wales (NSW) has seen a significant increase in the number of people overdue for elective surgeries, according to a new report released by the Bureau of Health Information (BHI).

The report revealed that in NSW the number of people who waited longer than clinically recommended for elective surgery increased 15-fold, from 1,144 in December 2019 to 17,074 in December 2022. The report also highlighted a decline in the percentage of elective surgeries performed on time, dropping to 76.6% by the end of 2022, well below pre-pandemic levels of 97.4% in December 2019.

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) President, Professor Steve Robson has emphasised that the current way of funding public hospitals is inadequate, and the ongoing review of the National Health Reform Agreement (NHRA) is a chance to act.

“The funding arrangements as they stand are failing Australians and the Premiers and Chief Ministers understand that. We need to look at embedding long term reform in the way hospitals are funded and run that incentivises quality, that incentivises keeping people out of hospital,” said Professor Robson.

Rising demand for NSW Ambulance also coincided with declining performance over the pandemic, with more patients waiting longer for an ambulance to arrive in 2022 than in previous years

“This data shows what has been clear to Paramedics for years: successive Government’s failures to fortify our emergency healthcare system left patients and Paramedics vulnerable at the time when they needed us the most,” said APA (NSW) President, Chris Kastelan.

“In 2022, just 35% of emergency cases received an ambulance within the 15-minute-target time. In 2010, 70% of our patients were getting care on time. How is it okay that this number has halved? How low must it go before the government takes serious action to fix this crisis? How many lives have to be put at risk?” continued Mr Kastelan.

The report also shows that between 2019 – 2022, paramedics were responding to more jobs than ever. Priority 1 and priority 1A case (the most life-threatening category) numbers surged by 22% and 67% respectively.

“We are seeing more critical emergency callouts, and being asked to take on more and more skills to try to patch up a failing health system.”

The AMA has proposed a new national hospital funding agreement that splits the funding 50/50 and provides hospitals with the resources they need to meet community demand.

The BHI report serves as a wake-up call to the NSW government and healthcare sector, highlighting the urgent need to take rapid action to address the hospital logjam and improve access to healthcare services.

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