Geraldton Hospital: Number of elective patients falls, but waiting times double

Tamra CarrGeraldton Guardian
Geraldton Hospital.
Camera IconGeraldton Hospital. Credit: Tamra Carr, The Geraldton Guardian

Wait times for most people who need surgery at Geraldton Hospital have lengthened, according to Australian Government statistics.

WA Country Health Service acting regional director Mid West Jeff Calver has declined to say why.

In multiple categories, the number of people who had elective surgery in 2016-17 fell, while waiting times increased significantly or almost doubled the 2015-16 figures.

Mr Calver said the hospital met the 30-day wait recommended for urgent surgeries but he declined to comment on why it was taking longer for people to have routine surgeries.

However, he was upbeat about Geraldton Hospital’s performance in the national arena.

Waiting times for elective surgery at Geraldton Hospital are better than the national average and within the recommended times.

“I am really pleased that waiting times for elective surgery at Geraldton Hospital are better than the national average and within the recommended times,” Mr Calver said.

Commonwealth statistics show that despite the longer waits, Geraldton Hospital is still outperforming the national average of just over a month.

The 38-day national average has been flagged as the worst waiting period in 15 years.

Australian Medical Association research has cited over-stretched hospital resources and a rise in elective surgery patients as the main reasons for the long wait.

Federal Member for Durack Melissa Price said the 2018-19 Budget would provide $188.9 million for expansions to Perth hospitals.

She said the WA Government failed to include a $45 million election promise to upgrade Geraldton Hospital in the State Budget last year, but the Commonwealth investment meant they could now commit funding to facility upgrades.

“With the added investment, the Federal Government have committed, we are surely now capable of freeing up some cash and delivering the medical services the people of the Mid West deserve,” Ms Price said.

An AMA report released in March shows that in half of the States and territories, about one in five patients who needed urgent elective surgery waited longer than clinically recommended times.

About 34 per cent of people with urgent cases in the emergency department were not seen within 30 minutes and wait times between GP referral and specialist consultation were lengthening.

A survey recently released by online service Compare the Market shows the most common reason Australians pay for private health cover is to avoid hospital wait times.

To compare Geraldton Hospital’s performance with the national average, visit www.myhospitals.gov.au.

VideoThe wait list has almost 80,000 West Aussies on it

Average wait times and number of recent surgeries performed at Geraldton Hospital:

In 2016-17, the average wait time for ear, nose and throat surgeries at Geraldton Hospital was 82 days and 142 surgeries were performed. In 2015-16, the average wait time was 60 days and 139 surgeries were performed.

In 2016-17, the average wait time for general surgery at Geraldton Hospital was 40 days and 428 surgeries were performed. In 2015-16, the average wait time was 27 days and 435 surgeries were performed.

In 2016-17, the average wait time for gynaecological surgery was 47 days and 85 surgeries were performed. In 2015-16, the average wait time was 22 days and 130 surgeries were performed.

In 2016-17, the average wait time for orthopaedic surgery was 58 days and 399 surgeries were performed. In 2015-16, the average wait time was 52 days and 448 surgeries were performed.

In 2016-17, the average wait time for urological surgery was 21 days and 208 surgeries were performed. In 2015-16, the average wait time was 17 days and 145 surgeries were performed.

In 2016-17, the average wait time for vascular surgery was 33 days and 31 surgeries were performed. In 2015-16, the average wait time was 27 days and 44 surgeries were performed.

In 2016-17, the average wait time for uncategorised surgery was seven days and 137 surgeries were performed. In 2015-16, the average wait time was 15 days and 299 surgeries were performed.

Data on eye surgeries was unavailable.

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