Cutting elective surgery waiting times

The Marshall Liberal Government has announced a $45 million investment to significantly reduce the number of overdue elective surgery patients in South Australia, including patients waiting beyond recommended clinical timeframes for colonoscopy procedures.


Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said the $45 million budget commitment delivers yet another Marshall team election promise.

“There are currently more than 1300 patients overdue for elective surgery procedures in South Australia, putting patients at increased risk of adverse outcomes,” said Minister Wade.

“More than 1000 of those patients do not even have a scheduled date for surgery as too many wait too long for surgery.

“The majority of patients overdue for elective surgery are on the waiting lists at the Royal Adelaide Hospital or Flinders Medical Centre.

“We’re committing an additional $20m in each of the next two financial years so these patients can get the surgery they need as soon as possible.”

SA Health is developing a range of strategies to bring down the overdue patient list, including working with the private sector to carry out some low complexity surgery such as urology, cataracts and tonsillectomies.

Other strategies that SA Health will consider include reactivating the Repat and increasing the number of surgeries carried out at country and peri-urban hospitals.

“Some country hospitals have the capacity to carry out more surgery than currently occurs, and this additional funding will see more patients receive their surgery in a country hospital where clinically appropriate,” said Minister Wade.

“Other metropolitan hospitals with the capacity to carry out additional surgeries may also be able to perform more procedures.”  

In addition to the more than 1300 overdue elective surgery patients, there are around 4100 South Australians who have been waiting for a colonoscopy beyond recommended clinical timeframes.

Increased participation in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program has seen an increase in the demand for colonoscopies across the country, including South Australia.

“These are extremely important procedures, and currently patients can wait many months to be seen.

“Our commitment of $5m towards additional colonoscopies will see SA Health work with the private sector to carry out an extra 2700 colonoscopies over the next nine months, the remaining overdue colonoscopies will be funded with Elective Surgery Funds.

“This is in addition to the approximately 25,000 colonoscopies carried out in the SA public health system each year.”

Agreements are expected to be in place with private providers in the coming months with the work expected to begin in December 2019.

SA Health is also developing a new model of care that will explore how the public and private sector can work together to meet this growing demand into the future.

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