JHH has state's longest elective surgery waiting list

ELECTIVE surgery waiting lists have blown out in the past year, the NSW opposition says, with John Hunter Hospital having the state’s highest number of listed patients.

But the government says that contrary to opposition scaremongering, most patients are seen within clinically recommended timeframes.

NSW Health figures compiled by the opposition show the number of patients on the elective surgery waiting list at the John Hunter rose from 3031 in March 2011 to 3250 in March this year.

The Newcastle hospital is one of the state’s busiest.

Waiting list increases were also recorded at Belmont, Cessnock and Kurri Kurri hospitals.

Numbers fell at Calvary Mater Newcastle, Gloucester, Maitland, Muswellbrook and Singleton hospitals.

Opposition health spokesman Andrew McDonald said the government had promised that when it was elected it would cut the elective surgery waiting list.

‘‘But instead we see the list continue to rise and rise on their watch,’’ Dr McDonald said.

He said waiting times were increasing because the government was failing to provide the extra money and medical staff hospitals needed to complete more surgery.

‘‘No one should have to go through months and months of pain and suffering while they wait for surgery,’’ Dr McDonald said.

Health Minister Jillian Skinner said yesterday that public hospitals did 4500 additional elective surgery procedures last year.

Money would be provided this year to increase the number again.

“In the Hunter New England Local Health District we performed more than 1000 additional surgeries compared to the previous year,’’ she said.

“Contrary to the scaremongering of the opposition, 93per cent of patients requiring urgent surgery at John Hunter Hospital were seen within clinically recommended timeframes,’’ Mrs Skinner said.

“Patients requiring elective surgery at John Hunter Hospital are waiting significantly less time than the state average.”

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