RESIDENTS with specialist outpatient appointments in Queensland have seen waiting lists slashed in half thanks to a multi-million dollar four-year investment by the state government.
Health Minister Cameron Dick said the number of patients waiting longer than clinically recommended had fallen 63 percent, from 104,000 to 38,000, thanks to the Palaszczuk Government’s $361.2 Specialist Outpatient Strategy.
Mr Dick said the Strategy involved 11 investment initiatives, all of which are set to implemented by 2020.
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“This Queensland-first strategy that is being implemented over four years is already delivering on its goal of cutting waiting lists and improving access to specialist services by 2020,” Mr Dick said.
“When we came to office, there were 104,000 Queenslanders waiting longer than clinically recommended for a specialist appointment. That number has dropped to 38,000 – a fall of 63%.
“This initiative has meant that more than 65,000 Queenslanders who might otherwise have still been waiting have been able to have their first outpatient appointment.”
Mr Dick said a key component of the strategy was improving access to enhanced telehealth services.
“Since it began, the Specialist Outpatient Strategy has funded more than 3800 additional telehealth services across 29 facilities,” he said.
“In the past year alone more than 60,000 outpatient service events have been delivered via telehealth across Queensland, a 37 per cent increase compared with the previous year, enabling more rural, regional and remote patients to access specialist care closer to home.”
Mr Dick said Queensland Health funding from the Specialist Outpatient Strategy was enabling hardworking staff to deliver more services.
The Palaszczuk Government has employed more than 1300 doctors and over 4000 nurses since coming to government.
“This proves that when you fund the front line, you lose the long wait,” Mr Dick said.
“Specialist outpatient services are essential to ensuring patients receive access to diagnostic assessment, screening and treatment, allow for ongoing management of chronic and complex conditions and provide pre and post hospital care.”
Health Consumers Queensland Chief Executive Officer Melissa Fox said it was distressing for anyone to have to wait longer than clinically indicated to access outpatient services.
“The Queensland Government’s Specialist Outpatient Strategy is recognition that the system must do all it can to prevent this,” Ms Fox said.
“We recognise the committed action that is being taken across the State to keep reducing the number of Queenslanders experiencing long waits for the care we need.
“Through representing the interests of consumers and carers on the Specialist Outpatient Strategy Steering Committee, our organisation will continue to support the implementation of solutions to tackle the often complex reasons for long wait times, in order to continue to drive the wait lists down.”
Find out more about the strategy at https://www.health.qld.gov.au/system-governance/strategic-direction/improving-service/specialist-outpatient-strategy/default.asp.