Elective surgery backlog detailed

Tasmanians were waiting longer for elective surgery than anywhere else in Australia during 2015-16.

However, Tasmanian elective surgery admissions recorded the highest increase in Australia. 

The data was detailed in theAustralian Institute of Health and Welfare’s Elective surgery waiting times 2015-16: Australian hospital statistics report, released on Thursday. 

The median wait time for elective surgery in Tasmania during 2015-16 was 72 days, up from 55 days the year before. The national median waiting time was 37 days. 

More than 15 per cent of Tasmanian patients waited over a year for elective surgery, the highest percentage in the country. The figure increased from 12.9 per cent in 2014-15. 

The report represented data from public hospitals across Australia. 

Tasmania saw the highest increase in elective surgery admissions from public hospital waiting lists in Australia. 

Elective surgery admissions from public hospital waiting lists increased 21.6 per cent from the year before in Tasmania. The admissions from public hospital waiting lists reached 18,973, up from 15,598 the year before. 

There were 36.7 admissions per 1,000 Tasmanians, up from 30.3 the year before. 

Health Minister Michael Ferguson said the government inherited a health system which required “a major overhaul”. 

“There is no quick fix but we are getting on with the job with our $76 million investment in elective surgery,” Mr Ferguson said.

He said the state’s waiting list was at a historic low of fewer than 6000 people. 

“The report shows an increase in waiting times of patients who received treatment during 2015-16,” he said.

“This is a good thing and consistent with the government’s policy of ensuring that the longest waiting patients are now being treated.”

The report said there were 19,224 additions to public hospital elective surgery waiting lists in Tasmania, and 21,730 removals. 

Almost 60 per cent of Tasmanian elective surgery patients were admitted to surgery within the clinically recommended time. The most common elective surgery performed in 2015-16 both in Tasmania and Australia was cataract extraction. AIHW spokeswoman Jenny Hargreaves said the median waiting time remained stable nationally, reaching 37 days in 2015-16 compared with 35 days in 2014-15.