More than 8000 WA patients to receive elective surgery

Neve Brissenden |

Wait times for elective surgery in WA blew out during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Wait times for elective surgery in WA blew out during the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 8000 patients will undergo long-awaited elective surgery as the Western Australian government injects $40 million to help clear the backlog. 

An extra 6000 procedures will be performed in the next six months, with the extra cash to be announced in the December mid-year financial review.

Wait times for elective surgeries blew out during the COVID-19 pandemic, with some patients forced to wait almost six months for simple day surgery.

Premier Roger Cook announced the extra funding on Monday, saying the health system had already cleared “record numbers” of patients on the wait list.

“We’re very proud of the work that WA doctors and nurses and hospital staff have done to make sure that our health system and our hospitals have coped better than most,” he told reporters.

The funding comes from “looking after the state’s finances”, he said.

WA Premier Roger Cook
Roger Cook has committed $40 million to clear the elective surgery waitlist in WA. (Aaron Bunch/AAP PHOTOS)

In August last year, 56,000 people were on WA’s elective surgery list, but that figure dropped to almost 44,000 in November.

Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson said the increase in staffing and beds had allowed more elective surgeries to take place.

“In August we peaked at 17,000 surgeries in our elective surgery system … an all-time record for the health system,” she said.

The increase in the number of elective surgeries was also due to the government’s investment in addressing ambulance ramping, which cleared beds for surgery, she said.

A surgeon prepares for theatre at Liverpool Hospital
The WA government is considering using private hospitals to help clear the elective surgery backlog. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS)

More than 500 beds have been added to WA hospitals since last year, as well as 1000 nurses and 600 medical staff.

The government was also looking at using private hospitals to perform the public hospital surgeries next year.

“There are certain contracts with private providers to do some pretty straightforward day procedures,” she said.

“(But) they are limited with their own capacity.”

While the backlog has been dwindling, WA health data shows more than 15 per cent of patients have waited longer than the recommended time for surgery.