Jim McGinty

Jim McGinty

Attorney General; Minister for Health; Electoral Affairs

    WA receives extra $15.4million from Federal Government for surgery blitz

    14/01/2008 3:00 PM

    An additional 2,700 children and adults will receive the surgery they need faster thanks to an Australian Government decision to provide Western Australia with an extra $15.4million in funding for elective surgery this year.

    Health Minister Jim McGinty said the money would boost the significant work already being undertaken to ensure all Western Australians waiting for elective surgery had their operation within clinically desirable timeframes.

    “This funding will allow us to further target groups of patients who have been waiting too long for their surgery, and ensure they have their operations this year,” Mr McGinty said.

    “In particular, a greater number of children with ear, nose and throat (ENT) and spinal problems will undergo surgery faster along with adults requiring orthopaedic, spinal or specialised breast surgery.”

    The extra money will:
    • fund an additional 2,700 procedures in 2008;
    • allow 90 per cent of category one patients to be treated within the clinically desirable timeframe of 30 days;
    • ensure all patients who have waited longer than 365 days (currently 275 patients) receive their surgery;
    • substantially eliminate the number of category two patients who have waited longer than the clinically desirable 90 days for surgery;
    • target long wait children who require ENT surgery (currently 387 children);
    • target long wait orthopaedic and general surgery adult patients;
    • provide surgery for country patients closer to home (approximately 468 patients); and
    • provide surgery for long wait female patients requiring specialised breast surgery.
    “WA Health already spends more than $250million annually on providing elective surgery to Western Australians, but when you consider that last year the public health system undertook about 69,000 surgical procedures, it’s clear that this extra assistance from the Commonwealth will be very helpful,” the Minister said.

    “Since coming to Government, we have achieved a 35.6 per cent reduction in the number of public patients waiting for elective surgery, along with a 46 per cent, or 2.2 months, reduction in the median time people have been on the wait list for surgery.

    “Under the previous Government, in 2001, the number of people waiting for surgery as public patients rose to a record 21,546 in July 1999.

    “By comparison at the end of December 2007, there were 12,241 public patients waiting for surgery across the metropolitan area. Waiting times are down from about 4.9 months in 1999 to 2.6 months now.”

    The extra funding will be used to extend existing capacity in hospitals such as PMH, Osborne Park and Kaleeya along with several country hospitals. It will also be used to introduce a capped program of voucher payments to enable a targeted number of long wait patients to be referred to the private sector for treatment.

    Mr McGinty said the State Government supported the Australian Government’s move to enforce clear performance targets and accountability arrangements for elective surgery wait list management reduction strategies.

    “We welcome this assistance from the new Australian Government and we want to ensure that this extra funding is not used simply as a ‘quick fix’ to cut the number of people waiting in the short term, but is used to build capacity in our general hospitals and to support surgical workforce reforms,” he said.

    Minister's Office - 9422 3000