Long waits for surgery risk more emergencies (The West Australian)

Health Minister John Day admits an 81-year-old Willagee grandfather was let down by “unfortunate and unacceptable” delays in having a carcinoma removed from his right foot.

Ivan Broxton is one of a growing number of West Australians whose conditions, considered the most urgent in need of elective surgery, are not being operated on inside the clinically recommended 30 days.

Mr Broxton was told by doctors he could lose his foot if the carcinoma was not removed.

The condition was categorised as “category 1” for elective surgery — having the potential to deteriorate quickly to the point it might become an emergency without surgery within 30 days.

Mr Broxton was added to the category 1 waiting list on May 5 but after six weeks he had no communication from Fiona Stanley Hospital.

Attempts to clarify with the hospital when he would be scheduled for surgery got him nowhere, so he turned in desperation to the office of shadow health minister Roger Cook.

“I was very concerned,” he said. The operation was eventually done on July 4.

Mr Cook yesterday highlighted figures that showed the number of category 1 patients who were not operated on within the 30 days had grown rapidly in the past two years.

Whereas 98 per cent of category 1 patients were treated within 30 days in 2014, for the first five months of this year just 85 per cent of patients were treated within the acceptable time frame.

The number of category 1 patients not treated within 30 days has grown from 139 in 2014 to 910 last year and 716 in the first five months of this year.

“What this shows is our health system is under stress,” Mr Cook said. “And what this shows is the Barnett Government’s mismanagement of our health budget has led to significant deterioration in hospital services.”

Mr Day said there was no issue with hospital budgets, which had increased, and that elective surgery had increased 6 per cent year on year. The blowout had been caused by an even greater increase in demand.

Despite the blowout, WA still had the second best waiting times of any State, Mr Day said.

“There appears to have been inadequate communication (with Mr Broxton) and I’m asking for more information about that,” he said. “But overall, there is a very big effort being put in in WA to ensure we have elective surgery performed on time.”