PEOPLE are generally waiting longer for elective surgery at most northern region hospitals than patients at other similar hospitals.
A comparison of median waiting times (the time it took for half of all patients to receive surgery) over April to June revealed the median waiting time for non-urgent surgery at Tamworth hospital was 53 days longer than the average for major hospitals.
Eighty-four per cent of patients in this category received their surgery within the recommended 365 days.
This was down from last year, when 93 per cent of patients were operated on within this timeframe.
The median waiting time for urgent surgery was on par with other similar hospitals, while that for semi-urgent surgery was 24 days longer.
The percentage of patients receiving urgent and semi-urgent surgeries within the recommended timeframes also fell, by 10 per cent and 14 per cent respectively.
A Hunter New England Health spokesperson said demand for elective surgery at Tamworth hospital was growing, there was an increased complexity in the type of cases and new surgeries had been introduced, such as ear, nose and throat.
But the spokesperson said the health service was recruiting extra anaesthetic staff to boost capacity and had appointed a clinical nursing expert to improve patient flows.
At Armidale, the median waiting time for non-urgent surgery was 283 days – 33 days longer than the average for medium-sized hospitals.
Semi-urgent patients were waiting one day longer, while urgent patients had an extra five days.
But the hospital had almost all patients across all categories operated on within the recommended timeframes, with just 1 per cent of those needing semi-urgent surgery not receiving it within the recommended 90 days.
One hundred per cent of non-urgent surgical patients were operated on within the recommended timeframe, up on 97 per cent in the same period last year.
The median waiting time for semi-urgent surgery at Inverell was almost double that of the smaller hospital peer group, and those needing non-urgent surgery were waiting 68 per cent longer.
The percentage of patients receiving semi-urgent surgery within the recommended timeframe fell from 100 per cent last year to 89 per cent, and from 89 per cent to 79 per cent for non-urgent surgery.
Median waiting times for urgent and semi-urgent elective surgeries at Gunnedah hospital were longer than the average, but non-urgent surgical patients had a shorter waiting time.
All semi-urgent and non-urgent patients were seen within the recommended timeframes, but just 89 per cent of urgent patients received their surgeries within the timeframe - down from 100 per cent last year.
But Moree hospital had shorter median waiting times than its peer group, except in the non-urgent category. Patients receiving surgery at Narrabri hospital also had shorter waiting times.
All patients at these hospitals also received their surgeries within the recommended timeframes.