Queensland’s premier says there’s been a dramatic drop in the state’s elective surgery waiting list, but the opposition says the result has come at a cost.
Queensland could become the first state in Australia to reduce long-wait surgery patients to zero by the end of 2014, the premier says.
The elective surgery long-wait list was 92 per cent lower than it was at the 2012 state election, Campbell Newman said.
“We want to have the best public health system in the nation and we have made massive gains towards that goal,” Mr Newman said.
“Our health system has gone from one of the worst performing, to one of the best in the country in just two and a half years.”
In March 2012, 6485 patients were on the long-wait list for elective surgery.
In the September quarter, that number was 533.
Health Minister Lawrence Springborg said 98 per cent of urgent category one patients were being treated within the recommended time, compared to only 86 per cent in March 2012.
“Queensland continues to report an increase in elective surgery admissions and hospitals are dealing exceptionally well with this increased demand,” he said.
But the state opposition was focused on the blow-out of a secondary wait list, the so-called “waiting list to be on the waiting list”.
The number of people seeking specialist appointments was 400,000, Labor’s Stafford MP Dr Anthony Lynham said.
“That’s nearly three times the population of Townsville,” he said.
“I can’t see how these are the best waiting list figures ever. It’s probably the worst Queensland’s ever been.”
The government had not only “fudged the figures” but blown federal funding, he said.
“The money for reducing the waiting list came from the national partnership program. It ceases.”
“Not only that, but health funding will decrease by another $30 billion.”
The government should have used the money to invest in infrastructure, Dr Lynam said.
He feared hospitals would not be able to cope with the increased demand when 400,000 waiting patients begin to pass through the health system.