NSW elective surgery waitlist blows out

Elective surgery waitlists in NSW have blown out to more than 100,000 people after non-urgent procedures were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Data from the state’s Bureau of Health Information shows there were 101,026 patients on waitlists on June 30 – up 20.1 per cent from the same day last year.

Of those, 10,563 had waited longer than the clinically recommended time – a massive rise from the 541 logged on the same day in 2019. 

On March 26, the National Cabinet of state and territory leaders suspended all non-urgent elective surgery across Australia.

“A progressive reduction in the number of elective surgical procedures – including public procedures contracted to private hospitals – was evident from early March, before declining sharply from 26 March when all non-urgent elective surgery was suspended,” it said.

Then, from May 15, elective surgery procedures were gradually allowed under a three-stage reopening plan.

Between April and June, 35,807 elective surgeries were performed in NSW, compared to 59,112 in the same period last year – a drop of nearly 40 per cent, the BHI found.

The BHI also found NSW emergency department attendances dropped more than 18 per cent in the June quarter to 615,690, compared to 754,468 in the same period last year.

NSW Labor says the state government must stop hiding behind the impact of COVID-19 and fix the waitlists for elective surgery.

“The reality is the NSW public health system was under enormous strain before elective surgeries were suspended. This crisis has been years in the making,” Labor health spokesman Ryan Park said on Wednesday.

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