Baird Government leaving Hunter patients waiting

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The Baird Government has been exposed leaving Hunter patients to wait in pain for key elective surgery procedures far longer than comparable patients across Australia – with a new report showing especially long delays at John Hunter, Belmont and Maitland Hospitals. 

The report – by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare – provides national median waiting times for key procedures during 2013-14. These can be compared with the most recent quarterly NSW hospitals performance data.

An analysis by the Labor Opposition has found that:

  • The median wait for a knee replacement at John Hunter is 267 days – 73 days longer than the national wait of 194 days;

  • The median wait for tonsil removal at John Hunter is 211 days – 112 days longer than the national wait of 99 days;

  • The median wait for cataract removal at John Hunter is 128 days – 49 days longer than the national wait of 79 days; and

  • The median wait for ear, nose and throat surgery at John Hunter is 84 days – 14 days longer than the national wait of 70 days.

  • At Maitland Hospital, the median wait for ear, nose and throat surgery is 137 days – while at Belmont Hospital, the median wait is 126 days – nearly double the national wait of 70 days.

  • At 127 days, the median wait for orthopaedic surgery at Maitland Hospital is nearly double the national wait of 66 days.

    “It is unacceptable for Hunter patients to be waiting so much longer for major elective surgery procedures than the rest of Australia,” Shadow Minister for Health Walt Secord said today.

    “Whether you are waiting for a knee replacement or for tonsils or cataracts to be taken out, the wait at John Hunter Hospital is as long as anywhere – and this is a direct result of the Baird Government’s $3 billion funding cuts to hospitals.

    “Health Minister Jillian Skinner needs to explain why it’s a 5 month wait for a knee replacement in Victoria – but 9 months at John Hunter.

“Why does a child urgently needing their tonsils out wait just 2 months in Victoria or 3 months in Queensland –

but 7 months at John Hunter?”

Yesterday, Opposition Leader John Robertson, Shadow Health Minister Walt Secord and Labor Candidates Tim Crakanthorp (Newcastle) and Jodie Harrison (Charlestown) unveiled NSW Health modelling showing that the Abbott Government’s $7 GP tax will cause an estimated additional 19,000 patients to flood John Hunter’s emergency department to avoid the payment.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Report shows that the outlook for elective surgery at John Hunter Hospital is just as dire – especially with a further $15 billion in cuts to NSW hospitals enacted in the Abbott Government’s budget without any resistance from Mike Baird.

Mr Robertson is urging people in Saturday's by-election to vote Labor and "send a message" in protest at the $7 GP tax and the Abbott and Baird Liberal Governments' cuts to health.

Labor Candidate for Newcastle Tim Crakanthorp said: “Every patient deserves to have their surgery completed as quickly as possible so they can get back on their feet. The fact that Hunter patients are being kept in limbo for so long because the Liberals are failing to resource our hospitals is just devastating."

Labor Candidate for Charlestown Jodie Harrison added: “Anyone who has ever had to wait hours in emergency – or had a family member unable to get in for major surgery – knows the extreme pressure that Hunter hospitals are under.”

“We need to clear the elective surgery backlog – and I urge people to use their vote this Saturday to send a message to Tony Abbott and Mike Baird that cuts to Hunter health are unacceptable.”

Link to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report (see tables from page 25):

http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=60129549064

Link to the most recent quarterly NSW data for Hunter hospitals:

http://www.bhi.nsw.gov.au/publications/hospital_quarterly_nsw 

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