Labor using covid to hide wait list blow-out

Thursday 6 August, 2020

The Palaszczuk Labor Government has been accused of a covid-19 cover-up after it was revealed Queensland Health is using the pandemic to keep patients off surgery waiting lists.

LNP Leader Deb Frecklington condemned the policy after meeting with a 79-year-old Hervey Bay patient who has been refused a place on the waiting list to see an orthopaedic surgeon.

The man, who has to take daily painkillers after injuring his shoulder in a fall, was told by Wide Bay Hospitals and Health Service that he was being kept off the list due to the ‘unprecedented impact’ of covid-19 (see letter extract below).

“The Palaszczuk Labor Government is using covid-19 to cover up the waiting list crisis in Queensland Health,” Ms Frecklington said.

“The number of people wait for surgery in Hervey Bay has soared by 51% under Labor ­– and that was before the covid-19 crisis began.

“Coronavirus is a big challenge for our hospitals, but that is no reason for patients to be kept off waiting lists – especially when they are suffering terrible pain.

“Every patient who needs surgery should be on the official waiting list.

“This policy has nothing to do with patient care.

“This policy is about protecting the Palaszczuk Labor Government.”

LNP Candidate for Hervey Bay Steve Coleman said Labor was creating a ‘waiting list for the waiting list’ to disguise its health failures.

“Everyone in Hervey Bay is grateful for the work our nurses and doctors have done in protecting our community,” Mr Coleman said.

“However, the Palaszczuk Labor Government cannot be allowed to fudge health figures.

“Labor’s record on waiting times is abysmal and they are using covid-19 to cover it up.”

LNP Member for Hervey Bay Ted Sorensen said his elderly constituent’s GP had written an urgent referral to Wide Bay HHS after assessing his injuries.

A letter from the HHS to the patient said his case had been classified as Category 3, with an appointment recommended within 365 days.

But the letter added that because Category 3 appointments were being impacted by covid-19, the hospital was unable to add the patient to the waiting list.

“Our hospital does fantastic work, but Labor’s Health Minister has a track record of lying to Queenslanders,” Mr Sorensen said.

“If someone is waiting for surgery they should be on the waiting list – no ifs, no buts.

“If and when this gentleman gets on the list, he may still have to wait a year just for an appointment.

“Labor is failing patients and lying to public. Queenslanders deserve better.”

Ms Frecklington said an LNP Government would partner with the private sector to slash surgery waiting lists and ensure patients are seen on time. 

“Our hard-working nurses, doctors, midwives and paramedics need more help on the frontline to improve patient care,” Ms Frecklington said.

“Only an LNP Government will slash waiting times and put patient care first.”

Extract from letter to patient from WBHHS below (please note final line):

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