This report by the Audit Office of New South Wales finds that NSW public hospitals are treating patients within national clinical timeframes, however increased operations will be required as targets increase and demand grows.
Elective or planned surgery is defined as any form of surgery that a patient's doctor believes to be necessary and can be delayed by at least 24 hours. Examples are hip replacement, cataract extraction and breast surgery. In 2011-12, approximately 210,000 patients had elective surgery in over 270 public hospital operating theatres in New South Wales. The cost of elective surgery within hospitals is estimated to be $1.3 billion each year or about 17% of NSW Health's inpatient hospital services budget. Across the NSW public hospital system, 45% of all admissions to operating theatres are for elective surgery, 27% for emergency procedures and 28% for non-surgical procedures such as endoscopies. This balance in individual hospitals varies, as does the range and complexity of the surgical procedures undertaken.
Over the last 3 financial years elective surgery numbers have grown by 6%. Public hospitals are now treating patients from waiting lists substantially within national clinical timeframes. However, NSW Health is not meeting its 3 key elective surgery efficiency targets for theatre utilisation, cancellations on the day of surgery and first case starting on time. There is also wide variation against these efficiency targets between LHDs and hospitals of similar types across New South Wales.