THE Queensland Government will now promise patients who have been waiting for their elective surgery will now receive it in the medically recommended time with a new Australian-first Wait Time Guarantee.
Health Minister Lawrence Springborg said the new Queensland Health guarantee, modelled on the world leading health systems of Scandinavia, would provide an assurance to tens of thousands of Queenslanders.
Mr Springborg said the LNP Government's hard work and the improved efficiencies it had introduced into Queensland Health over the past two-and-a-half years, meant that from 1 February, 2015, patients would receive their elective (non-emergency) surgery on time.
"In 2013-14, Queensland had the second highest increase of elective surgery admissions in Australia," Mr Springborg said.
"With the new Wait Time Guarantee we can now ensure that every patient will have their surgery as planned by maximising access to the state's network of hospitals, doctors and nurses whether they are in the public, non-government or private sector.
"Queensland Health is committed to the continued transformation of patient care and waiting times. We have been able to achieve and fund this Australian-first for public patients because of the disciplined management of Queensland Health.
"We have dramatically reduced the number of patients waiting longer than medically recommended for their surgery which means less pain and suffering for thousands of Queenslanders."
Mr Springborg said in March 2012, 6,485 patients had waited longer than medically recommended. In September 2014 that list had been reduced to just 531 long-wait patients. Queensland Health was on track to cut that to zero long-waits by 1 January, 2015.
"We have achieved remarkable results over the past 12 months, but there is still a lot to do to continue the improvements in health frontline services for patients," Mr Springborg said.
"We are committed to ensuring that every patient who requires surgery, and is ready to receive it, gets that treatment within the medically recommended timeframe no matter where they live within the state."
From 1 February 2015, all elective surgery will be carried out within the following nationally-recommended times:
- Urgent (Category 1): Surgery recommended within 30 days of being added to the wait list, as the condition could get worse or become an emergency;
- Semi-urgent (Category 2): Surgery recommended within 90 days of being added to the wait list, as the condition is causing pain or disability but unlikely to become an emergency;
- Non-urgent (Category 3): Surgery recommended within 365 days of being added to the wait list, as the condition is causing minimal pain or disability.
"The Wait Time Guarantee means if your local Hospital and Health Service can't provide treatment within the medically recommended time, you'll be offered the next available appointment in a public or private hospital elsewhere in the state at no cost," Mr Springborg said.
"These patients won't have to pay for any travel or accommodation costs, if they are treated more than 50 kilometres from their original hospital. This can only be achieved in a well-managed, well-resourced world-class health care system.
"And that has only been possible because of the LNP Government's strong team developing a strong plan for public health care in this state."
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Along with the reduction in patients waiting for elective surgery, Mr Springborg said the Government had also slashed the public waiting list for Cochlear implants and long wait public dental treatment.
"In March 2012, 61,405 people had waited more than two years on the public dental waiting list. Our campaign has slashed this to zero, which is a remarkable achievement," Mr Springborg said.
"We've also cleared the patient backlog for hearing impairment, with 113 people receiving Cochlear implants in the past 12 months. Historically the wait for a Cochlear implant in Queensland was up to four years.
"We have also turned our focus to patients with debilitating eye conditions and we are now clearing the ophthalmology long wait list."
In September this year, there were more than 7,900 people in Queensland waiting longer than medically recommended for an initial ophthalmology appointment.
"Queensland Health has engaged ophthalmology service providers in a bid to clear this long wait list. It is about providing quality frontline services while cutting the bureaucracy." he said.
The government has set up resources for people seeking information about the Wait Time Guarantee:
Phone: 1300 332 807 (7 am to 9pm, 7 days a week)
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