Productivity Commission highlights sustainability concerns for elective surgery

The Productivity Commission’s Report on Government Services today confirmed longstanding concerns about the sustainability of Victoria’s healthcare system.


Emergency Departments struggled to treat emergency patients in a timely manner last financial year. Category 2 emergency patients present with potentially life-threatening injuries, such as chest pain or stroke. However, only two thirds of these patients are seen within the 10-minute timeframe - down from 75% in 2018-19.


COVID-19 has exacerbated blowouts in elective surgery wait times with half of Category 2 elective surgery patients waiting longer than clinically recommended for surgery. The report also highlighted serious concerns about the sustainability of elective surgery in Victoria, which predate the impact of COVID-19.


Elective surgery waiting list turnover data (Table 12A.33) shows a public health system failing to keep pace with demand for elective surgery since 2017-18. Wait list turnover shows the number of people added to the elective surgery wait list each year as a proportion of patients treated or removed from the wait list.


Positive values show the percentage of additional patients treated or removed from the waitlist in addition to those added to the wait list in a calendar year. A negative value “indicates that more patients were added to public hospital elective surgery waiting lists than were removed… therefore the number of patients on the waiting list will have increased”. For example, in 2013-14, 105.2% of the patients added to the wait list, were treated or removed from the wait list in that year.


The Productivity Commission’s explanation of the data set states: “A higher and increasing per cent of patient turn over is desirable as it indicates the public hospital system is keeping pace with demand for elective surgery.”


Source: ROGS, Table 12A.33

Negative and decreasing values show a public health system failing to keep pace with demand for elective surgery.


The negative and decreasing values since 2017-18 show that Victoria’s public health system is failing to keep pace with demand resulting in an increased wait list, well before the impact of COVID-19 was brought to bear on wait lists.


Georgie Crozier MP

Shadow Minister for Health

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