Wait Time Guarantee based on Scandinavian health system

WAITING times will be cut and out-of-pocket costs slashed in a move for regional and rural Queenslanders facing elective surgery.

And patients who cannot be treated in the public system will get free elective surgery through private operators.

They will also score free travel and accommodation if they are treated more than 50km from their local hospital.

Starting on February 1, more patients will be treated in the medically recommended time under the Australian-first Wait Time Guarantee put forward by Queensland Health.

In the July-September 2014 quarter, 98% of urgent patients were treated in the recommended 30 days; 92% of semi-urgent patients were seen in the recommended 90 days; and 96% of non-urgent patients were seen in the recommended 365 days.

Acting Health Minister Scott Emerson said the model was based on Scandinavia's health system,

"If your local hospital and health service can't provide treatment within the medically recommended time, you will be offered the next available appointment in a public or private hospital in the state at no cost to you," Mr Emerson said.

"Our focus will now be on specialist outpatient appointment waiting lists and as hospital performances continue to improve, we need the support of patients to ensure valuable appointments aren't missed.

"For our patients these are opportunities lost."

No-show patients blasted

THE state's acting health minister has blasted no-show patients who cost the state's health system $45.6 million a year.

Rural and regional residents are among those failing to attend specialist outpatient appointments at a cost of $3.8 million a month to Queensland Health.

The 2014-15 figure rose dramatically on last financial year.

In 2012-13 the monthly loss was $2.6 million or $31.2 million a year.

Acting Health Minister Scott Emerson said $3.8 million a month loss could have paid for 171 knee replacements, 172 hip replacements or 89 cochlear implants.

"We understand that there's sometimes a good reason why patients miss appointments but it's important that people keep their appointments to ensure they progress through the health system," he said.

"The millions being lost to missed appointments each month could have gone towards providing care and treatment to hundreds more Queenslanders."




The surgery recommendations are:

  • Urgent: Surgery recommended within 30 days of being added to the wait list, as the condition could get worse or become an emergency;
  • Semi-urgent: Surgery recommended within 90 days of being added to the wait list, as the condition is causing pain or disability but unlikely to become an emergency;
  • Non-urgent: Surgery recommended within 365 days of being added to the wait list, as the condition is causing minimal pain or disability.

Source: Queensland Health