TAMWORTH hospital is performing more surgeries than ever, but wait times are leaving patients in the region in “agony”.
There were more than 11 surgeries a day performed at the hospital between April and June this year, but there were still 1703 patients on the books waiting for their operation on June 30.
More than 1000 eye-related procedures were on the wait list and Hunter New England regional health director Susan Heyman says the hospital is looking to cut wait times.
“There has been an increase in demand for ophthalmology surgery due to an increase in the complexity of patients,” Ms Heyman said.
“Additional theatre time has been allocated to ophthalmology surgery to assist in reducing the time patients wait for surgery.”
NSW Labor MLC, Daniel Mookhey, claimed New England patients were waiting longer than the rest of the state for operations.
“Waiting over a year for cataract removal at Tamworth Hospital – when you are in your 80s that is almost a life sentence,” Mr Mookhey said.
“Unfortunately, in NSW, a patient is not placed on the cataract removal list until they are almost blind.
“When you are an elderly patient with cataracts, you cannot watch television, drive yourself to the doctor or see your grandchildren play; that is devastating and heart-breaking.”
He also hit out at wait times for knee and hip replacement operations.
NSW Health Minister, Brad Hazzard, defended Tamworth hospital’s record and said “elective surgery performance has in fact improved”.
Ms Heyman said the hospital continued to improve its surgery stats, which was reflected in the latest Bureau of Health Information (BHI) quarterly report.
“Tamworth Hospital continues to work hard to ensure people receive their surgery sooner,” she said.
“The latest BHI report shows that 96.3 per cent of patients at Tamworth had their surgery on time between April and June 2017.”
This figure was up the same quarter in 2010 when 93 per cent of patients received their operation in the clinically-recommended time-frame, when the hospital performed about 30 per cent less surgeries (787) in the same 91-day period.
The amount of surgeries performed in the 2017 quarter compared to 2016 grew by 10 per cent, while the wait list grew by 4.9 per cent.