Patient patients set for a long wait
PATIENTS waiting for specialist appointments are languishing in queues for up to a year longer than recommended, new figures show.
Half of patients waiting for urgent, category- one appointments in areas such as diabetes, vascular surgery, neurology and pain management are waiting longer than the recommended 30 days.
And fewer than one in five people told to see a neurosurgeon within the month manage to get an appointment in time, with most waiting almost a year.
The latest figures for Queensland’s waiting list for specialist appointments show wait times have drastically improved over the past two years,
But some specialities still carry major blowouts, including for patients needing plastic and reconstructive surgery, rheumatology services, urology appointments and vascular surgery.
A category- one appointment should be attended within 30 days, but patients are waiting 277 days for neurosurgeons, 183 days for vascular surgeons, 97 days to talk to a specialist about pain management and 94 days for a gastroenterologist.
However, wait lists have been slashed in other disciplines, with patients sailing into urgent orthopedic, cardiac surgery, obstetric and oncology appointments.
Health Minister Cameron Dick said that 104,000 Queenslanders waited longer than clinically recommended in 2015. Extra doctors and nurses and a set plan to tackle the “waiting list for the waiting list” had reduced that number to 38,000, or by 67 per cent, he said. He said he wished he could promise waiting lists would drop to zero, but that was unrealistic.
He said there were challenges in areas where there were few specialists and few specialists graduates.
“We don’t control the training of specialists in Queensland Health; that is led by the colleges,” he said.
“So there are still challenges in a number of specialties, but we have a dedicated focus on reducing this long wait.”