Worsening of hospital waiting times disputed

The NSW Opposition has attacked the Liberal Government over its failure to reduce the lengthy wait times in Wyong Hospital, as well as its plan for privatisation.
Shadow Minister for the Central Coast, Mr David Harris, and Shadow Minister for Health, Mr Walt Secord, said Wyong Hospital’s emergency and elective surgery wait times were unacceptable.
Mr Harris and Mr Secord made the comments after the release of data from a recent Bureau of Health Information (BHI) quarterly report.
They said the data, which they released to coincide with the visit to Central Coast by NSW Health Minister, Mr Brad Hazzard, on Friday, March 3, showed that Wyong Hospital’s emergency and elective surgery waits were some of the worst in the State.
They said the report showed that almost one in three patients in the emergency department waited longer than the national benchmark of four hours, with 798 patients waiting longer than nine and a half hours.
They also claimed the report showed that response times in elective surgery were little better, with the wait for non-urgent elective surgery at 226 days, and with 10 per cent of patients waiting 341 days – almost a year.
Mr Secord said Wyong Hospital was under enormous pressure and that under-resourcing by the Liberals at State and Federal levels, as well as population growth, had contributed to the above average wait times.
“Under the Liberals, patients wait at every stage; they wait for an ambulance, they wait at the emergency department, they wait for a bed and then they wait for surgery,” he said.
Mr Harris and Mr Secord also reiterated their opposition to the privatisation of Wyong Hospital, saying Labor “opposes the Americanisation of the public health system.”
Mr Harris said: “The community’s views are clear; Central Coast patients and families want a public hospital at Wyong not a private one.
“We do not want to see a two-tiered system where your healthcare is determined by the size of your wallet.”
However, Parliamentary Secretary for the Central Coast, Mr Scot MacDonald, said the wait times were better now than when Labor was in power.
He said: “When Labor was kicked out of office in NSW in 2011, just 55 per cent of patients at Wyong Hospital left emergency within four hours.
“In the last quarter of 2016, that has improved to 69.4 per cent of patients at Wyong Hospital.”
He added: “The Liberal Government has committed $200million to Wyong Hospital.”

Media release,
Mar 3, 2017
Maegen Sykes, Office of Luke Foley
Media Statement,
Mar 9, 2017
Kit Hale, Office of Scot MacDonald
Tynan King, journalist