Wait for cataract surgery may soon be over for eye patients

WAITING times of up to three years for cataract surgery may soon be over for Fraser Coast patients, with negotiations being held between Wide Bay hospital executives and Queensland Health.

Hervey Bay MP Ted Sorensen said Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service was negotiating for Queensland Health to take over referral and treatment of ophthalmology patients.

He said the negotiations were to ensure the waiting list for eye surgery never blew out again.

All 289 patients on the waiting list as of March this year have been treated through the Surgery Connect program, at a cost of $1.1 million.

The program has been the only way Fraser Coast public patients have been able to get treatment for at least the past three years.

Surgery Connect funding is not guaranteed and is allocated on a needs basis across the state.

The Fraser Coast's two public hospitals do not take any referrals for ophthalmology surgery because they are not funded to provide the service.

The former Wide Bay chief operating officer south Phillipa Blakey told the Chronicle in May that urgent cases were referred to the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital.

She said less urgent cases were managed by GPs and optometrists, or private treatment.

In a speech to parliament in May, Mr Sorensen said he had sought action on ophthalmology waiting lists while Labor was in power.

"I was watching people in Hervey Bay go blind," he said.

Wide Bay Hospital and Health Services could not release any information on the negotiations to the Chronicle before deadline on Wednesday.

New plans to enhance the capacity at Hervey Bay Hospital's emergency department would be announced in weeks.



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