Letting The Truth Be Hidden

Letting The Truth Be Hidden

Victoria AMA President Dr. Harry Hemley

Hidden Waiting Lists Must Be Uncovered

Victor P Taffa

The Brumby Government must commit to publishing the state’s hidden Public Hospital waiting lists so patients have the full picture of how long they must wait for elective surgery, AMA Victoria President Dr. Harry Hemley said today.

The Opposition has committed to publishing Victoria’s outpatient waiting times if elected, but with less than one month until the 27 November election, the Brumby Government is running out of time to make its position clear to voters.

Dr. Hemley said the official elective surgery waiting lists did not reflect the time patients actually waited for surgery.

“Victorians needing surgery can be forced to wait years for an outpatient clinic appointment before they’re put on the elective surgery waiting list.” Dr. Hemley said.

“These patients often suffer from pain and disability, and have a reduced quality of life. Far from being elective, this is essential surgery. Long waits for care inevitably increase the patient’s risk of complications and poorer outcomes.”

Dr. Hemley said the Victorian Government’s failure to publish outpatient waiting times meant elective surgery waiting lists looked much shorter.

“The time patients initially wait to see a specialist is not currently recorded or reported by the government.” Dr. Hemley said.

“For example, elderly Victorians needing a hip replacement might wait 12 months to be seen in an outpatient clinic, then wait a further six months on the ‘official’ surgical waiting list. Most people would see that as an 18-month wait, not a six month wait, as officially reported.”

Dr. Hemley said Patients and their Doctors needed to know how long they were expect to wait for an outpatient clinic appointment so they could consider other options.

“There might be another Hospital with shorter waiting times and the patient could travel to another service. Or the patient may wish to go Private.” Dr. Hemley said.

“If a patient and their doctor don’t know how long they will have to wait, they can’t make informed decisions about their treatment options, let alone decisions about living arrangements, organising carers and taking time off work.” Dr. Hemley said.

“The Brumby Government’s future health plan must include adequate reporting systems so we can pinpoint the long waits and direct resources to reducing these waits.”

“The Opposition has committed to publishing the State’s Hidden Waiting Lists. It’s time for the Brumby Government to come clean with patients and make the same commitment.” Dr. Hemley said.