Many public hospitals are finding themselves pushed for time and resources, which is leaving them struggling to meet the high standards demanded of the medical industry.
The first victim in such a case is often the waiting times. Medical professionals are, of course, not going to reduce their quality of care; but with a growing and ageing population, it is leaving the queue to see a doctor, nurse or surgeon rather long.
In many cases, this creates a situation where patients are left longer than the time recommended by experts, and it puts further pressures on public healthcare.
As legislation battles to make this less of a problem in the future, many are now turning to private health insurance and gaining access to benefits that allows them to choose their doctor and the location of their treatment.
The waiting time issue has been a noticeable one across the country for some time. However, in Queensland, recent statistics show that 114,000 people have been waiting longer than the clinically recommended time for outpatient treatment.
Queenslanders left waiting
This figure was outlined in a March media release from the Queensland Government. In a state of almost 4.7 million people, 229,737 were waiting for an initial appointment at a specialist outpatient clinic as of January 1, 2015.
Almost half of these were on what the government called "the waiting list for the waiting list". These statistics included many that are deemed urgent cases by the Australian Triage Scale.
- Around 8,000 of these were "urgent" category 1 patients who had been waiting longer than the clinically recommended time of 30 days
- Approximately 63,000 were "semi-urgent" category 2 patients waiting longer than the 90-day recommended timeframe
- Around 40,000 "non-urgent" category 3 patients had been on the extended waiting list for longer than the 365-day limit advised by medical experts
Taking the next step
With so many people left waiting for longer than is advised for outpatient treatment, Health Minister Cameron Dick said there needs to be movement towards a better solution.
"I think it is time we had an honest discussion about waiting times across a patient's journey through our health system," Minister Dick said in a March 6 media statement.
If you are concerned about waiting times and are considering purchasing private health insurance, it is important to discuss the matter with your insurance broker first.
Choosing the right level of cover based on your needs will ensure you have a policy that focuses on both quality and affordability. If this is your aim, please contact HICA on 1300 44 22 01.