Even more elective surgery patients forced to wait more than a year

The latest AIHW elective surgery public hospital data shows a continuation of the worrying trend of long wait times for elective surgery in Australia’s public hospital system.

New data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) shows that the proportion of patients on elective surgery waiting lists who waited longer than 365 days to be admitted was 7.6 per cent in 2020-21 – up from 2.8 per cent in the previous year.

The data shows that half of all public elective surgery waiting list patients were admitted for their procedure within 48 days (up from 39 days the previous year).

Waiting times for most procedures increased between 2019-20 and 2020-21.

Alongside the increase in admissions to hospital from the waiting lists, there was also an increase in the number of people being added to waiting lists. There were 893,000 patients added to elective surgery waiting lists in 2020-21, up from 838,000 the previous year and similar to the number added in 2018-19.

“To ensure the health system maintained adequate capacity to manage the COVID-19 pandemic, non-urgent elective surgery was suspended nationally in March 2020. This reduced the number of elective surgeries performed in the 2019-20 reporting period and contributed to creating a ‘backlog’ of surgeries that had been delayed,” said AIHW spokesperson, Dr Adrian Webster.

See report:

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