Wait times for Victorians in line for Category 3 elective surgery in Victoria have more than doubled over the past year.
Performance data released by the Victorian Agency for Health Information (VAHI) shows skyrocketing delays for surgical patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The latest data shows the full impact of the second lockdown on elective surgery, with drastic increases in wait times, despite elective surgery returning to full capacity in late November.
Category 3 elective surgery patient wait times increased by 118 days from this time last year, with the median wait for up from 72 days to 190 days, a 164 per cent increase. The clinically recommended time for category 3 treatment is 365 days, however, one-in-five patients waited longer than recommended, up from just 4 per cent last year.
Category 2 elective surgery patients wait times increased by an extra month compared to last year, with the median wait for up from 46 days to 75 days. An appalling 44 per cent of patients were not treated within the clinically recommended 90 days, up from 20 per cent this time last year.
During the October-December quarter of 2020, emergency departments saw a return of emergency patients, who avoided attending hospital in the previous quarters due to COVID-19. Despite the return to “COVID normal”, around one in three emergency patients have been waiting longer than recommended for treatment.
Ambulance transfer times also worsened with the median time increasing to 24 mins. Just 78 per cent of patients were transferred within the 40-minute deadline, down from 84 per cent in the previous quarter.
Ambulance Victoria response times also increased. Code 1 responses took on average 12 minutes and 16 seconds, 47 seconds longer than last year. Code 2 response took on average 28 minutes and 56 seconds, 2 minutes and 59 seconds longer than last year.
Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Health, Georgie Crozier:
“Daniel Andrews has no plan to reduce ballooning wait times for elective surgery. When will Daniel Andrews make the health of Victorians in pain a priority?
“These are people in pain. They’re waiting for hip surgery, knee surgery, they need cataract surgery so they can see properly.
“These delays only exacerbate underlying health conditions for thousands of Victorians, leading to ongoing complications that could have been prevented.”