Waiting times for elective surgeries rise

Richard Laycock 7 December 2018 NEWS

Median waiting time for elective surgery jumps from 36 days in 2013–14 to 40 days in 2017–18.

Wait times for elective surgery are on the rise around the country as the time taken for a patient to be admitted jumped four days from a median of 36 days in 2013–14 to 40 days in 2017–18, according to the latest reports from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report had bad news for New South Wales residents as it had the highest median waiting time of any state with 55 days.

"In 2017–18, across the states and territories, the median waiting time for elective surgery ranged from 23 days in the Northern Territory to 55 days in New South Wales," AIHW spokesperson Dr Webster said.

The study found that patients waiting for treatment for more than a year only rose slightly when compared to the previous period (2016-17), up from 1.7% to 1.8% in 2017-18 and was actually down when compared to 2013-14, where 2.4% of patients were waiting for their surgery for more than 365 days.

"Waiting times also varied depending on the type of surgical procedure. In 2017–18, the longest median wait was for Septoplasty (surgery for a deviated nasal septum) at 248 days, compared with 17 days for coronary artery bypass graft surgery," Dr Webster said.

While this is not great for public patients, the result may have health insurers licking their lips, as one of the major drawcards of private health insurance is being able to receive treatment quicker than if you were to go through the public system. Whether or not this will stem the tide of people dropping cover remains to seen.

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