People across Queensland are set to feel the benefit of Australia's first elective surgery guarantee from February 1.
The scheme aims to cut down the waiting lists for elective surgery, but Queensland Health has gone further and pledged to improve every aspect of the patient experience in the state, ensuring that only world class healthcare is delivered.
Medically recommended time
"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," explained Queensland Acting Health Minister Scott Emerson.
"Work to introduce the new surgical Wait Time Guarantee has reduced our elective surgery waiting lists to virtually zero across the state," Mr Emerson continued.
However, while surgery waiting lists are on the way down, the number of outpatients missing appointments appears to be on the rise. Statistics reveal that Queensland is losing around $3.8 million each month as specialist appointments are continually missed.
"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," said Mr Emerson.
Travel or accommodation costs covered
When the elective surgery guarantee kicks in on February 1, the Queensland government will ensure that patients have the cost of any travel to a secondary hospital or any overnight accommodation reimbursed if they are treated more than 50km from their original hospital.
Surgery recommendations are currently split into three categories, all have an applicable wait time which will be strictly adhered to, according to Queensland Health:
- Category 1 – Urgent: A specialist will diagnose that anyone who falls into this category should receive surgery within 30 days as the condition is likely to worsen.
- Category 2 – Semi-urgent: Covers any patients who are not necessarily in emergency need of surgery but are still suffering from pain. Under the elective surgery guarantee, they must receive treatment within 90 days.
- Category 3 – Non-urgent: Surgery is required, but the treatment is causing minimal pain on a day-to-day basis. Treatment administered within 365 days.
While the elective surgery guarantee in Queensland is set to be introduced, a similar nationwide scheme could still be some way off. Private health insurance offers an ideal solution to avoid protracted waiting times – and gain access to treatment away from the public system.
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