“I’m a very empathetic and understanding person, I realise I’m not the only one in that predicament, and there’s probably more people in just as much pain and despair that have been waiting as long – if not longer.”
According to the Australian Medical Association (AMA), a union representing Australian doctors, Mr Gregory’s experience is one shared by thousands of people in the public health system.
‘These hidden figures are a scandal’
“Elective surgery waiting times are reported nationally each year, but these numbers don’t reflect the time someone waits to see the specialist in an outpatient clinic.”
Australian Medical Association AMA President Professor Steve Robson at a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra on 1 September 2022. Source: AAP / MICK TSIKAS
Public hospital outpatient appointments are scheduled by levels of urgency.
Patients requiring urgent neurosurgeon appointments can wait up to 930 days in Victoria, and for an ear, nose and throat appointment, the wait can be more than 1,400 days.
“The only way we can fix our hospital system is by having total transparency on the number of people who are waiting for care – this means counting people from the time the general practitioner refers them to a specialist,” Professor Robson added.
Patients ending up in emergency care
“These numbers were incredibly large before COVID. To say that this is just a COVID problem or caused only by the pandemic is simply not true – the waiting lists have been a problem for many years, and the AMA has been calling for many years for these hidden waiting lists to be reported on and released.”