Australia’s Non-Mandatory Surgery Waiting List “Growing and Increasingly Important”: Experts

The Australian Medical Association and the Royal Australian College of Surgeons (RACS) are calling on the government to immediately address the “increasing and increasingly important” untreated portion of elective surgery pushed back by the COVID-19 pandemic. increase.

This call comes from data from Australia’s New Institute for Health and Welfare (AIHW) showing that Australia is waiting longer than ever for elective surgery in different categories and conditions.

AMA and RACS statement On February 1, two organizations supported the postponement of some selective surgery to prevent a surge in COVID-19 in the hospital, but said, “This approach is increasingly unsustainable.” Stated.

“We need an urgent plan to restore reasonable and acceptable access to selective surgery and a long-term funding arrangement to ensure that this backlog is cleared,” the statement read. ..

Selective surgery is surgery that can be scheduled in advance for non-life-threatening conditions. However, in some cases, it can be used for serious illnesses such as cancer and can reduce quality of life.

Data released to January 25 According to AIHW, 50% of patients had been waiting for surgery for 48 days. This is an increase of 9 days compared to the previous 2019-2020 period and 8 days more compared to the 2018-2019 period.

The proportion of patients who had to wait 365 days or more for surgery also increased to 7.6% nationwide, almost tripled from 2.8% and 2.1% for the 2019-2020 and 2018-2019 periods, respectively. I did.

AMA President Omar Khorshid said that the currently highly vaccinated population in Australia means that “total interruption of elective surgery should only be used as a last resort.” rice field.

He appointed the discontinuation of elective surgery as “a failure of the government to properly invest in the capacity of public hospitals and to implement the plans necessary to avoid this consequence.”

“Elective surgery is not an optional surgery of choice for patients and doctors. It is an essential surgery. Patients often lead a normal life due to life-threatening conditions, severe pain and dysfunction. It’s an operation to deal with a situation that isn’t possible, “said RACS President Sally Langley.

“For many patients waiting in a painful line to undergo significant surgery, delayed surgery can be catastrophic. In addition, the lack of screening procedures can lead to more advanced cancer. In some cases, it dramatically changed their prognosis, “she said.

Both AMA and RACS call for immediate planning to resume elective surgery as a priority in both private and public hospitals.

AMA and RACS considered that private hospitals had unused capacity and that these facilities needed to be returned online for regular elective surgery as soon as possible.

AIHW spokesman, Adrian Webster Withdrawal of non-urgent elective surgery in March 2020 as an intervention to manage the COVID-19 pandemic will reduce the number of elective surgeries performed during the 2019-20 reporting period. , Contributed to the creation of a “backlog” of surgery. ” I was late. “

Hospital admissions to public hospitals for elective surgery decreased to 688,000 between 2019 and 2020 and recovered to 754,600 between 2020 and 2021, but pre-pandemic hospitalizations from 2018 to 2019. It is below 758,000 and the waiting list is increasing. For selective surgery being pushed back in early 2020.

Khorshid called for plans funded by state and federal governments to clear the waiting list accumulation and “appropriately” support public hospitals.

“Australia needs immediate action and a lasting solution to the waiting list for elective surgery, otherwise our hospitals and patients will only continue to deteriorate.”

Marina Chan


Marina Chan is a Melbourne-based Australian reporter with a focus on Australian news. Contact her at [email protected]