ELECTIVE surgery waiting times have generally fallen at most northern region hospitals and many are performing better than similar NSW hospitals.
But the Bureau of Health Information’s latest performance report for October to December 2012 shows median waiting times – the time it took for half of all patients to receive surgery – for non-urgent surgery have mostly grown since the same period the previous year.
The median waiting times for urgent surgery and semi-urgent surgery at the Armidale, Gunnedah, Inverell and Narrabri hospitals fell from the same quarter in 2011.
But for non-urgent surgery, median waiting times at Armidale and Gunnedah grew by 31 per cent and 57 per cent respectively.
Median waiting times for urgent surgery at Tamworth hospital jumped by two days to 12, while for non-urgent surgery they grew from 277 to 303. But the wait for semi-urgent surgery was slightly shorter.
At Moree, median waiting times for urgent surgery grew from five to six days in the year, while semi-urgent times remained the same.
The non-urgent surgery waits grew from 46 days to 152 days.
Most hospitals in the northern region performed better than similar hospitals across the state.
Armidale hospital performed equal to or better than its peer group of hospitals in two of the three elective surgery categories, with 97 per cent of patients treated within the recommended timeframe.
The average for the peer group was 96 per cent.
Gunnedah, Moree and Narrabri hospitals also performed above their peer group average of 97 per cent of patients receiving surgery on time.
Gunnedah had the best record in both its peer group and the region at 100 per cent.
Inverell hospital was in the same peer group but 90 per cent of its 62 patients received surgery within the appropriate time.
Tamworth hospital also fell short of the major hospital average of 92 per cent, with 90 per cent of patients treated on time.
But more patients awaiting urgent surgery received treatment within the recommended timeframe than the peer group, at 98 per cent.
This was an 8 per cent growth for the hospital on the same quarter in 2011 and a 2 per cent increase on the previous quarter.
Statewide 93 per cent of patients received their surgery within the recommended timeframe.