Opposition Leader Lawerence Springborg.
Opposition Leader Lawerence Springborg. Madeline Mcdonald

Surgery wait times guaranteed no more

QUEENSLAND opposition leader and member for the Southern Downs Lawrence Springborg has slammed the Queensland Labor Government's decision to scrap the state surgery wait-time guarantee.

Mr Springborg introduced the surgery wait-time guarantee in November last year while he was the state health minister.

Queensland Health Minister Cameron Dick announced on Tuesday he would scrap the guarantee, a decision Mr Springborg said he would challenge in parliament.

"The surgery wait-time guarantee was crucially important to Queenslanders getting their surgery on time," Mr Springborg said.

"When the LNP took over government, there were 6485 people waiting longer than recommended for surgery, many of them on the Darling Downs.

"By February that had reduced to 73."

In announcing he would scrap the wait-time guarantee, Mr Dick said the Labor Government would introduce targets for 98% of "urgent" (Category 1) patients to receive their elective surgery within the clinically recommended time of 30 days, and 95% of Category 2 and 3 patients to receive their elective surgery within the clinically recommended times.

But with 100% of Category 1, 2 and 3 patients in the Darling Downs district already being seen within the clinically recommended time, Mr Springborg said the the district would go backwards.

"The concern is that the government is turning the clock back," he said.

"This will dramatically impact patients in the region because the government will let the percentage of patients being seen within the clinically recommended time slip to 95%."

Mr Dick announced $30 million would be made available to "start the process of addressing the 'waiting list for the waiting list'" for surgery.

Mr Springborg said the money would do "nothing".

Darling Downs Hospital and Health Board member Ross Hetherington said he was unsure about the move.

"I'm in two minds about the decision to scrap the wait-time guarantee," Dr Hetherington said.

"The Darling Downs was doing really well, the wait times were really good and people were getting their surgery on time.

"We were starting to really make an impression on the waiting list for the waiting list.

"I don't know what effect the scrapping of the wait-time guarantee is going to have on that.

"Where I had mixed feelings is that the wait-time guarantee was leading to more people on the operating list.

"Hopefully, there is a plan under the Labor Government for that."

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