QLD surgery wait time guarantee

The Australian-first Wait Time Guarantee, modelled on Scandinavia, will start on 1 February 2015 and means Queenslanders waiting for their elective surgery will receive it in the medically recommended time.


“If your local Hospital and Health Service can’t provide treatment within the medically recommended time, you will be offered the next available appointment in a public or private hospital in the state at no cost to you,” Acting Health Minister Scott Emerson said.


But Mr Emerson said $3.8 million was being lost state wide each month so far in 2014-15 from patients not turning up for their specialist outpatient appointments.


He said the figure was significantly more than in 2012-13 where the monthly losses totalled $2.6 million across the state.


“Work to introduce the new surgical Wait Time Guarantee has reduced our elective surgery waiting lists to virtually zero across the state,” Mr Emerson said.


“We understand that there’s sometimes a good reason why patients miss appointments but it’s important that people keep their appointments to ensure they progress through the health system.


“Our focus will now be on specialist outpatient appointment waiting lists, and as hospital performances continue to improve, we need the support of patients to ensure valuable appointments aren’t missed. For our patients, these are opportunities lost.


“We have achieved remarkable results over the past 12 months, but obviously there is still a lot to do to continue the improvements in health frontline services for patients.”


GP liaison officers and business practice improvement officers constantly search for ways to fast track the patient’s pathway through the health system.


From 1 February, the Wait Time Guarantee will ensure that patients won’t have to pay for any travel or accommodation costs if they are treated more than 50 kilometres from their original hospital.


“With our strong plan, real improvements are being made to Queensland Health’s frontline services,” Mr Emerson said.


“The millions being lost to missed appointments each month could have gone towards providing care and treatment to hundreds more Queenslanders.


“That money - $3.8 million - could have paid for 171 knee replacements, 172 hip replacements, or 89 cochlear implants, and clearly make a huge difference to many people’s lives.”


One of the strongest complaints by Queenslanders about the public health system continues to be the extended waiting period before receiving an appointment with a specialist. It is only after receiving a specialist appointment that a patient has the possibility of being placed on a surgical waiting list.


Surgery recommendations:

  • Urgent (Category 1): Surgery recommended within 30 days of being added to the wait list, as the condition could get worse or become an emergency;

  • Semi-urgent (Category 2): Surgery recommended within 90 days of being added to the wait list, as the condition is causing pain or disability but unlikely to become an emergency;

  • Non-urgent (Category 3): Surgery recommended within 365 days of being added to the wait list, as the condition is causing minimal pain or disability.

1 January 2015.