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Illawarra & South Coast waiting longer than the rest of NSW for elective surgery

June 17, 2020

NSW Labor is urging the Government to do more to clear the backlog of elective surgeries in the Illawarra and South Coast after Bureau of Health Information (BHI) figures waiting lists hit a record high before COVID-19 restrictions.  
 
In the January to March quarter, patients across the Illawarra and Shoalhaven had the longest elective surgery waits in the state. One in ten patients were waiting 395 days for non-urgent elective surgery. It was 345 days in Southern NSW. 
 
The report also uncovered Illawarra patients waited a median three hours and 24 minutes in the emergency department, over half an hour longer than the state-wide median. At Wollongong Hospital, one in ten patients waited over 10 hours for medical care.
 
The figures represent the enormous strain on the NSW public health system before elective surgeries were suspended in March to help hospitals prepare for an expected surge in COVID-19 patients.
 
The Shadow Minister for Health, Ryan Park, said the Government must immediately reinstate critical funding to emergency departments and extend operating hours to start repairing the damage from $252 million in cuts to NSW Health last year.
 
“These figures are damning but what is most concerning is they represent the situation before the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mr Park said.
 
“It shouldn't matter where you live in Australia, people should be able to get the medical attention they need in a timely fashion.”
 
The Member for Wollongong, Paul Scully, said: “Once again Wollongong Hospital has set a new record for the longest elective surgery waiting list at 2,756 people. It has also set a new record for the median length of time people are spending in the emergency department – almost four hours.”  
 
“It is appalling that such a large regional hub next to Sydney is under such enormous strain.”
 
The Member for Shellharbour, Anna Watson, said: “My electorate is home to some of the fastest growing areas in the state such as West-Dapto. They deserve the same level of care as the rest of the state.” 

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