Surgery waiting times soar
The number of West Australians waiting for elective surgery is continuing to climb, with the State Government conceding it will take time to correct the upward trend.
Figures for the end of March, only weeks after Labor won office, show 19,932 public patients were waiting for operations in WA hospitals, an increase on the 19,774 people waiting a month earlier.
It was the second-highest number on record despite more surgery being done, suggesting patient demand is continuing to outstrip resources.
Of those waiting at the end of March, 1242 people, or 6.2 per cent, were waiting longer than medically advisable, including 124 category ones, the most urgent patients.
People on the list had been waiting an average of 67 days, compared to 82 days in February and 62 last March.
Medical specialties with the highest number of delayed cases were urology, plastic surgery and ear, nose and throat surgery.
The major hospitals most strug- gling to operate on patients within the recommended times in March were Fiona Stanley, with 68 per cent of patients admitted operated on within time and Royal Perth (73 per cent).
The best performer was Princess Margaret Hospital, where only one child who had elective surgery in March waited longer than recommended.
Health Minister Roger Cook, a strong critic of the previous government’s handling of elective surgery, said his Government was committed to building a sustainable, world-class health system.
Mr Cook said health care needed to be more innovative and integrated, and its proposed medihotels were part of the solution. Other election commitments such as urgent-care clinics were needed to break down barriers between primary, secondary and tertiary care.
The Government is yet to do a wideranging review of health services, including determining further redevelopment of Royal Perth Hospital.