Jane Griffiths: Day hospitals have capacity and will to alleviate wait list pain
Western Australia is the only state in Australia where the State health department doesn’t work with private day hospitals to relieve the agonising wait of surgery wait lists.
Given the State health crisis that WA is currently experiencing, West Australians should be pushing the Government to know why, when using the private day hospital sector would directly help West Australians who desperately need surgery to improve the quality of their lives.
WA public hospitals are in constant bed block and ambulance ramping is still as bad as it’s ever been.
Recently surgeries at one of the larger private hospital have shut down leaving paediatric patients and their families, with limited options or to join the public wait list.
There are no clear estimates of exactly how many West Australians are on public surgery wait lists, because the health department doesn’t count those who have been referred to a specialist but are yet to be seen. The AMA’s calculated estimate for 2022/2023 suggested that the back log of patients is 57,085 people, who are either languishing on the waiting list or who have been referred for a specialist consultation at a public hospital but have not been seen.
And around the country, the AMA estimates that there could be 500,000 people waiting for so-called elective surgery. This term makes it seem like surgery is a choice or option for those waiting, when in reality the surgeries considered elective are gall bladder removal, tonsillectomies, diagnostic colonoscopies and cataract surgery. The conditions that have led to this surgery impact the quality of life of those affected.
That’s half a million people waiting to have their vision back, remove the risk of debilitating gall stone attacks and improve their sleep by removing their tonsils.
In other States, such as Victoria and Queensland, health departments have developed formalised working relationships with private day hospitals. In Queensland 1198 public patients have had surgery in private day hospitals this year alone.
In WA though, the state health department won’t even talk with Day Hospitals Australia to explore our options to assist in reducing surgery wait list times. Private say hospitals in WA have about 25 per cent capacity right now. That would enable a significant number of people this year who could have surgery and be cleared off the elective surgery waiting list.
The question remains, why won’t the State health department engage with private day hospitals to relieve the agony of wait lists for West Australians?
Jane Griffiths is CEO of Day Hospitals Australia.