In 2013-14, Australia's public hospitals admitted almost 700,000 patients from elective surgery waiting lists, this report finds.
How much elective surgery was there in 2013–14?
In 2013-14, Australia's public hospitals admitted almost 700,000 patients from elective surgery waiting lists (as either elective or emergency admissions).
Almost 1 in 4 of these patients was admitted for General surgery (surgery on organs of the abdomen) and about 1 in 7 was admitted for Orthopaedic surgery (surgery on bones, joints, ligaments and tendons, including knee and hip replacements).
Between 2012-13 and 2013-14, national admissions for elective surgery increased by 4.2%. Admissions increased in most states and territories. They decreased in South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory. There were 30.0 admissions for elective surgery per 1,000 population in 2013-14. After adjusting for changes in the coverage of the collection, there was very little change in the number of admissions per 1,000 population between 2009-10 and 2013-14.
Between 2009-10 and 2013-14, admissions for Cataract extraction increased by an average of 5.5% each year and admissions for Total knee replacement increased by an average of 4.9% each year.
How long did people wait for surgery?
Between 2009-10 and 2013-14, the median waiting time was relatively stable.
In 2013-14, 50% of patients waited up to 36 days for public elective surgery. The median waiting time ranged from 28 days in Queensland to 49 days in New South Wales.
The surgical specialties with the longest median waiting times in 2013-14 were Ear, nose and throat surgery, Ophthalmology, and Orthopaedic surgery (70, 69, and 66 days, respectively). Cardio-thoracic surgery and Vascular surgery had the shortest median waiting times (18 days and 19 days, respectively).
Coronary artery bypass graft was the procedure with the shortest median waiting time (18 days). Septoplasty and Total knee replacement had the longest median waiting times (221 days and 194 days, respectively).
Between 2009-10 and 2012-13, the amount of time within which 90% of patients were admitted for the awaited procedure increased from 245 days to 265 days. It decreased between 2012-13 and 2013-14 from 265 days to 262 days.
Between 2009-10 and 2013-14, the proportion of patients who waited more than a year to be admitted for their surgery decreased from 3.4% to 2.4% (a 29% decrease in the proportion of patients who waited more than a year over the five year period).
In 2013-14, the median waiting time for Indigenous Australians (41 days) was higher than for other Australians (36 days).
The proportion of Indigenous Australians who waited more than a year for elective surgery was higher than for other Australians (2.8% and 2.3%, respectively).