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  • Australians needing eye surgery face the longest waiting time

    Author: AAP

Amid rising elective surgery waiting times, waiting times have remained relatively stable, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

Australians needing eye, ear, nose or throat surgery face the longest waiting times, a national report on elective surgery shows.

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The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), released on Thursday, shows there were around 712,000 patients admitted to public hospital elective surgery waiting lists in 2015/2016.

This represents an annual increase in admissions of 1.7 per cent since 2011.

Women's and children's hospitals accounted for 40 per cent of admissions, and cataract extraction was the most common surgical procedure with 68,000 admissions from July 2015 to June 2016.

Urology - a branch of medicine that focuses on the male and female urinary tract system and the male reproductive organs - had the largest increase in admissions, with an average increase of 4.5 per cent each year from 2011-12 to 2015-16.

Plastic surgeries also rose by 4.0 per cent per year.

Amid rising admissions, waiting times remained relatively stable, said AIHW spokesperson Jenny Hargreaves.

In 2015/16, the median waiting time for elective surgery was 37 days.

"This was not much different from the median of 35 days recorded for 2014/15 and the median of 36 days recorded each from from 2011/12 to 2013-14," Ms Hargreaves said.

The number of patients who waited longer than 365 days to be admitted for their procedure decreased from 2.7 per cent to 2 per cent from 2011/12 to 2015/16.

The surgical specialties with the longest median waiting times in 2015-16 were Ophthalmology (78 days); Ear, nose and throat surgery (74 days), and Orthopaedic surgery (67 days).

Septoplasty, surgery to fix a deviated septum in the nasal passage, had the longest median waiting time of 209 days.

The surgical procedure with the shortest median waiting time of 13 days was Coronary artery bypass graft.

Indigenous Australians waited significantly longer (43 days) for elective surgery compared to other Australians (37 days).

A higher proportion of Indigenous Australians also waited more than a year for elective surgery than other Australians, 2.3 per cent and 2 per cent, respectively.


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