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Improving Elective Surgery Wait Times for Regional Queenslanders

Improving Elective Surgery Wait Times for Regional Queenslanders

Persistent Disparities in Access

Despite a slight improvement in elective surgery wait times, regional Queenslanders continue to face significant disparities in healthcare access.

Recent data from the Queensland Government highlights ongoing challenges, especially for patients outside metropolitan areas.

According to AMA Queensland President Dr Maria Boulton, nearly 40% of Mackay patients waited longer than recommended for essential surgeries.

Similar delays were noted in Central Queensland and Townsville, underscoring the need for targeted interventions.

The Importance of Timely Surgery

“Every single Queenslander deserves to receive essential healthcare within the recommended timeframes,” stated Dr Boulton.

Timely access to elective surgeries is crucial, not only for maintaining daily life but also for preventing adverse health outcomes. Prolonged wait times can force patients into emergency departments, further straining the healthcare system.

The disparity in surgery wait times between regional and metropolitan areas is stark. In some Hospitals and Health Services (HHSs), less than eight in ten patients receive timely treatment, compared to the state’s average.

This inequity highlights the importance of addressing regional healthcare needs more effectively.

A Collaborative Approach

To tackle these challenges, AMA Queensland has announced a new Surgical Wait List Roundtable, set to convene in mid-2024.

This initiative aims to identify practical, affordable actions to reduce wait times and improve access to elective surgeries across Queensland.

The Roundtable will include monthly online meetings with clinicians from various specialities and HHSs, leveraging their frontline experiences to propose tangible solutions.

Workforce issues remain a key focus, as they directly impact the ability to meet recommended surgery timelines.

The Roundtable’s diverse expertise will be crucial in developing strategies that address these systemic issues and ensure equitable healthcare for all Queenslanders.

By drawing on the experiences of healthcare professionals and fostering collaborative problem-solving, Queensland can move towards a more balanced and fair healthcare system for its regional communities.