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Hospital waiting times in Australia

15 October 2015 by News Desk

health_hospitalImprovements have been made to waiting times for surgery at hospitals in Australia.

Latest figures show that the time within which 50% of patients were admitted for elective procedures has decreased from 36 days to 35 days. And the proportion of patients who waited longer than a year to be admitted for their procedure decreased from 2.8% in 2011 to 1.8% in 2015.

Despite these improvements, the report shows significant variation in waiting times across Australia, and for different population groups, according to the report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

In 2014-15, the median waiting time ranged from 27 days in Queensland to 55 days in Tasmania. The proportion of patients who waited for longer than a year ranged from 0.5% in Queensland to 12.9% in Tasmania.

The report also found that the median waiting time for Indigenous Australians was higher than for other Australians (42 days compared with 35 days), and that the proportion of Indigenous Australians who waited more than a year was higher than for other Australians (2.3% compared with 1.8%).

The surgical specialties with the longest median waiting times in 2014-15 were Ear, nose and throat surgery, Ophthalmology, and Orthopaedic surgery (73, 70, and 64 days, respectively). Cardio-thoracic surgery had the shortest median waiting times (18 days).

Coronary artery bypass graft was the procedure with the shortest median waiting time (14 days) and Septoplasty had the longest median waiting time (214 days).

Between 2011-12 and 2014-15, the largest average annual increases in admissions were for Total hip replacement and Total knee replacement, which increased by about 4.5% and 4.0% per year, respectively. Admissions for Myringotomy (surgery on the ear drum for example for middle ear infections) decreased by about 5.0% per year.

In 2014-15, Australia’s public hospitals admitted almost 698,000 patients from elective surgery waiting lists.



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