PCH surgery $1.7m aid

The Sunday Times - - NEWS - EX­CLU­SIVE PETER LAW

AN ex­tra $1.7 mil­lion will be spent on fast-track­ing hun­dreds of op­er­a­tions at Perth Chil­dren’s Hospi­tal in a bid to get its surgery wait list un­der con­trol.

Fig­ures re­leased this week show al­most one in 10 elec­tive surgery pa­tients at the $1.2 bil­lion hospi­tal are wait­ing too long for their op­er­a­tion.

The de­lays have prompted the Mc­Gowan Gov­ern­ment to launch a “wait­list re­duc­tion strat­egy” just seven months after open­ing PCH.

From next month, $1.7 mil­lion will be spent on ex­tra the­atre ses­sions to al­low 400 ad­di­tional surgery cases over the next five months.

At the end of De­cem­ber there were 2541 chil­dren queu­ing for surgery at PCH, a 13.5 per cent in­crease com­pared with one year ago at Princess Mar­garet Hospi­tal.

Of these, 242 pa­tients were “over bound­ary”, mean­ing they were wait­ing longer than med­i­cally rec­om­mended. There was only one over-bound­ary case at PMH a year ago.

Aus­tralian Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion WA pres­i­dent Dr Omar Khor­shid said it was a wor­ry­ing trend and showed not enough surgery was be­ing done at the new hospi­tal.

“They have had six months and the sit­u­a­tion is get­ting worse. It’s time they do some­thing about it,” he said.

The grow­ing wait list at PCH is be­ing repli­cated at many of WA’s hos­pi­tals.

There were 24,552 cases on the State-wide wait­list last month, an in­crease of 11.7 per cent on 12 months ago. Of these, 1633 cases were over bound­ary.

The big­gest year-on-year rises were at St John of God Mid­land (up 42 per cent), King Ed­ward Me­mo­rial (up 42 per cent), Peel Health Cam­pus (up 31 per cent), Joon­dalup Health Cam­pus (up 19 per cent), Sir Charles Gaird­ner (up 16 per cent) and Fre­man­tle (up 14 per cent).

Health Min­is­ter Roger Cook said the move to PCH re­quired a re­duc­tion in surgery be­fore and after the re­lo­ca­tion.

“The de­crease and in­crease are grad­ual and al­low for vi­tal ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing of sur­geons and other the­atre staff in their new op­er­at­ing en­vi­ron­ment,” he said.

“Whilst de­mand for elec­tive surgery has been grow­ing the cur­rent in­crease in over-bound­ary elec­tive surgery cases at the PCH has been di­rectly pre­cip­i­tated by the move from PMH.”

Mr Cook said over-bound­ary cases would be the fo­cus of the wait­list re­duc­tion strat­egy.

“In the mid­dle of last year, I asked all health ser­vice providers to im­ple­ment spe­cific strate­gies to ad­dress the elec­tive surgery wait­lists. I’m pleased to re­port that in gen­eral these strate­gies are work­ing,” he said. “In 2017-18, WA recorded the second-low­est me­dian wait­ing time (39 days) for re­portable elec­tive surgery in Aus­tralia.”

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