The COAG Reform Council’s report out today confirms only 61 per cent of patients who attended NSW emergency departments last year were treated and left in the clinically recommended National Emergency Access Target (NEAT) four hour timeframe.
This figure has gone backwards since 2010 and is well short of the 69 per cent benchmark.
Delays for people already overdue for the most urgent category of surgery (category one) also got worse.
In 2010, the baseline result was a zero wait beyond the clinically recommended timeframe for urgent surgery patients. Now, that has blown out to an average 11 day wait.
“This is what happens when you cut $3 billion out of the health system,” Shadow Health Minister Dr Andrew McDonald said today.
“Emergency Department waiting times are blowing out, and delays for the most urgent categories of surgery are getting worse for patients.
“Based on median wait times, it takes twice as long to get a full hip or knee replacement in NSW than it does in Victoria.
“It is no wonder we are seeing almost daily reports of major delays to lifesaving surgery, medical appointments and the use of operating theatres as storerooms. Hospital performance is going backwards under the O’Farrell Government.
“The fact is the O’Farrell Government isn’t providing hospitals with the recurrent funding for medical staff, resources and hospital support workers to keep up with demand.
“Only last week we learnt Royal North Shore Hospital operating theatres are being used as storerooms because the Government isn’t providing them with the funding and resources to carry out surgery.
“Bowel cancer surgeries at St George Hospital were cancelled for the rest of the financial year to cut costs until a public backlash forced the Minister for Health to backdown.
“It’s not good enough to spend money building new hospitals, but then refuse to fund the doctors, nurses and medical resources to provide the surgery. It is like something straight out of Yes, Minister.
“In next week’s budget, unless we see the O’Farrell Government’s $3 billion cut to health funding reversed and a major increase in recurrent funding for our hospitals, things are only set to get worse for patients.”