According to the Australian Medical Association, the ACT Government's elective surgery plan is not a long term solution. The plan will see 200 public patients undergoing elective surgery at two private health facilities. The Government has planned to clear up the backlog of elective surgery by using the private health system. At present there is a focus on ear, nose and throat procedures, urology and orthopedic procedures.
Health Minister Katy Gallagher says the details and cost are yet to be finalized. However ACT AMA branch president Dr Iain Dunlop feels, “It's not a good policy in the long term because it's not sustainable…If you drill down a bit further, it devalues private insurance which people actually stretch themselves to manage so that they can have their choice of target surgery.” Ms Gallagher however feels it is a productive strategy. She said, “The extra work will allow us to get through hundreds of long wait patients off the list and that will considerably improve everybody who goes onto the list in the future in terms of their waiting times…It is a work in progress.” She pointed out that the latest figures show wait times are improving. “Since January 2010, the number of people on the elective surgery waiting list has dropped by 9 per cent and we are confident that a record number of patients will receive surgery in the ACT in 2010-11,” she said.
The numbers stand at 2,750 people who underwent elective surgery in public hospitals during the first three months of this financial year, 12 per cent more than last year. “The number of people waiting longer than standard waiting times has already dropped by 17 per cent,” she said. “Two specific examples include urology- down 38 per cent- and neurosurgery- down 63 per cent as at 30 September,” the Health Minister said.
As part of the national health reform process, $5.8million has been made available to ACT Health this financial year to address long surgical waits.