Patient wait lists slashed thanks to statewide strategy

18 July 2017

The number of patients waiting longer than clinically recommended for an initial outpatient appointment at Children’s Health Queensland has reduced by 89 per cent in the past 12 months thanks to a Queensland-first initiative.

Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Cameron Dick said as a result of the $361.2 million Specialist Outpatient Strategy, Queensland patients had experienced tremendous improvements in wait times.

“When we came to office, 104,000 people were waiting longer than clinically recommended for a specialist outpatient appointment. At the start of June, that number had fallen to 44,000,” Mr Dick said.

“That is a decrease of almost 60 per cent in just two years, despite annual increases in the number of referrals of 10 per cent a year.”

Chief Executive of Children’s Health Queensland Fionnagh Dougan says the number of patients waiting longer than clinically recommended for an initial outpatient appointment at Queensland Children’s Hospital had dropped from 2,421 to 266 between June 2016 and June 2017.

“We have also continued to maintain zero long waits for elective surgery for the past 12 months,” said Ms Dougan.

“These improvements were thanks to additional Queensland government funding and initiatives such as running extra Saturday and after-hours clinics and streamlining our processes so more children and young people could be seen by our clinicians.”

The Ritchie family from Chermside have experienced first-hand the improvement in waiting times.

Four-month-old Thomas Ritchie had a reaction to a dairy-based formula and so his GP referred him to the Queensland Paediatric Immunology & Allergy Service based at the hospital.

Mum Kristie-Lee Thomas said her son’s appointment was arranged in less than two weeks.

“We were able to do the testing on the day of his appointment and our doctor explained everything and answered my million questions. Beyond the allergy testing, the nurses gave us information about Thomas’s eczema and that was really helpful,” said Ms Thomas.

She said her son has a minor reaction to dairy products and she has been given advice about gradually introducing dairy products in a safe way into his diet.
Immunologist and allergist Dr Kahn Preece said: “It’s a good example of the importance of early review as it allows us to dispel myths and encourage early food introduction to babies which helps reduce food allergy burden in the community.”

Mr Dick said the Government was committed to ensuring Queenslanders had greater access to medical specialists.

“While the strategy has provided the essential framework for reducing waiting lists, we have also invested in more doctors, more specialists and more services to make this possible.

“Without the hard work of our frontline staff, we would not have seen such fantastic results.

“Improving frontline healthcare services is a focus for this Government – and while we know that improving the whole patient journey takes time, we’re confident we will continue to deliver improved health outcomes for all Queenslanders.

“The Specialist Outpatient Strategy is being funded over four years so Queenslanders can be confident improvements will continue.”

ENDS

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