An analysis of one of the Government’s most critical portfolios paints a bleak picture on the fifth anniversary of Labor’s election.
An analysis of one of the Government’s most critical portfolios paints a bleak picture on the fifth anniversary of Labor’s election.

Premier’s unhealthy five-year report card

SICK Queenslanders are waiting longer for surgery in ever-growing hospital queues despite the State Government pouring billions of extra dollars into the health system.

A five-year analysis of Queensland's health system, to coincide with the Labor Government's fifth anniversary in office, shows while 10,581 extra doctors, nurses, paramedics and health professionals have been hired and nearly 900 beds have been added, it hasn't stemmed the tide of patients waiting for care.

Queensland Health's budget this year is $19.23 billion - a staggering $6.5 billion more than the $12.7 billion budget in the last year of the last LNP government.

More Queenslanders are waiting longer for elective surgery.
More Queenslanders are waiting longer for elective surgery.

But while spending per person increased by nearly $1000 per person to $2,803 in 2017-18, the numbers of available beds per person remains the same.

It comes at a time public hospital patient numbers are exploding.

A staggering 178,750 people turned up for urgent help at emergency departments in December last year, compared to 108,100 people in February 2015, when Ms Palaszczuk took office.

Despite that major blowout, a greater percentage are being seen within recommended times, and the median waiting time for treatment has dropped from 20 minutes to 13 minutes.

But ambulance ramping has worsened, with a quarter of patients now sitting waiting on stretchers outside EDs for more than 30 minutes, compared with just 15 per cent in February 2015.

Over the same time, the numbers of patients waiting for elective surgery has nearly doubled from 30,073 to 56,176.

And the numbers of them waiting longer than clinically recommended for their surgery has seen a 470 per cent increase from just 102 in January 2015 to 585 at the end of 2019.

Health Minister Steven Miles
Health Minister Steven Miles

Where one in 200 people were waiting more than a year for surgery in 2014/15, now one in 75 are waiting that long.

The median wait time has grown for most surgeries since 2013-14, doubling for those waiting for ear, nose and throat and orthopaedic surgeries.

It's extended from 46 to 64 days for ophthalmology, from 20 to 27 days for neurosurgery and from 35 to 45 days for gynaecology.

Cardiothoracic surgery has remained stable at 12 days, while only a few days were added to waits for urology, plastic surgery and general surgery.

Health Minister Steven Miles told The Sunday Mail the Government had invested in health staff, and building and expanding hospitals since coming to power, with new work completed, underway or planned at 21 different communities across the state.

Mr Miles nominated a new adolescent mental health facility in Brisbane, a new residential rehabilitation and withdrawal facility in Rockhampton and the expansion of telehealth for rural and remote Queenslanders to access specialist care without having to travel as highlights.

The Government says adding a new ward to the Queensland Children’s Hospital is one of its top achievements over the past five years.
The Government says adding a new ward to the Queensland Children’s Hospital is one of its top achievements over the past five years.

As were the decriminalisation of abortion, making it easier for women to access the contraceptive pill and a introducing real time prescription monitoring for addictive prescription drugs, he said.

But the Government has also overseen hospital and health services that were last year $34.4 million in deficit last year, threatening their long-term financial viability.

The Government has also bungled health IT projects like the $135 million hospital purchasing system that crashed on its launch last year and then caused months of ordering headaches and billing nightmares for suppliers waiting months to be paid.

It's also faced problems with its Integrated Electronic Medical Record (ieMR) system, which crashed at every one of the 14 hospitals using it in September.

Its rollout has been delayed at a number of hospitals, including The Prince Charles and Royal Brisbane and Women's.



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