© iStockphoto.com/Christian Frieß

Fat, old and unhealthy

FRASER Coasters getting older and fatter – and smoking – are putting our hospital waiting lists under pressure.

New Qld Health figures show there has been an increased demand for general services at Hervey Bay and Maryborough hospitals.

And the region’s health boss, Beth Norton, says the number of patients waiting longer than the recommended times for surgery have increased in all but one category.

“We are continually looking at strategies to decrease these waiting times but as the population grows and gets older, the rates of chronic disease will also rise,” Ms Norton said.

“Many of these conditions are preventable and, as such, the community is encouraged to increase its healthy lifestyle habits by not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly.”

But Opposition health spokesman Mark McArdle says Qld’s waiting lists are the worst in the country.

“The Qld health budget increased by over $1 billion or 14 per cent in the financial year June 2008 to June 2009.

“Those 3282 patients across the state who were classified as already overdue for surgery in September 2007 are still waiting in June 2009.

“Queenslanders are putting themselves at risk when they place themselves at the mercy of a health system which is pathologically incapable of meeting their needs.”

Ms Norton says the Fraser Coast still had some work to do on the number of patients waiting longer than the recommended times for surgery.

“The outsourcing of patients through the Surgery Connect program has helped ease some of the pressure. A total of 37 orthopaedic patients were treated in the private sector using Surgery Connect during the September quarter.”

In October 2009 390 were waiting for Hervey Bay admission and 223 for Maryborough. “Long waits” totalled 106 and 25 respectively.

In October 2008 364 were waiting for the Bay and 255 for Maryborough. “Long waits” totalled 39 and 15 respectively.

Hervey Bay Hospital and Maryborough Hospital admitted 471 patients from the waiting lists between July and September 2009 – 49 more patients than during the same period in 2008 and 30 more than the June quarter 2009.

Hervey Bay and Maryborough admitted 6238 patients – an overall increase of 6.5 per cent or 382 more patients than in the previous September quarter.

Mr McArdle said many Queenslanders classified as already overdue for surgery were being forced to wait at least two years in the state’s “failed health system”.



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