The WA health system continues to struggle to keep pace with demand with new figures showing more than 21,000 elective surgeries were cancelled last year.
Shadow Health Minister Libby Mettam said questions in WA Parliament revealed the system remains at crisis point with the number of cancellations peaking in November 2022 when almost 2500 surgeries were cancelled.
“Between January and November last year, 21,919 surgeries were cancelled across the metropolitan and country health services, with 2478 cancelled in November alone,” Ms Mettam said.
“The Health Minister has continually tried to blame Covid for the number of surgeries being cancelled but the latest figures paint a different picture – the peak occurred long after the number of Covid cases eased.
“These figures also show there were regularly around 2000 surgeries cancelled in the months preceding the border opening in March 2022 when there was no Covid in the community.
“The reality is the cancellations were due to a mismanaged health system and the government can no longer use Covid as a cover for its failures in our hospitals.
“We are the richest state in the country with the Premier continually boasting about record surpluses yet we have a health system that is on its knees.”
Ms Mettam said there were now almost 28,000 people on the elective surgery waitlist, up from 19,000 in 2017 when Labor was elected.
“It’s important to remember that just because a surgery is elective does not mean it’s not vital, with many people on those lists suffering in daily pain and unable to work due to their various ailments,” Ms Mettam said.
“Many of the patients listed have waited months, and sometimes more than a year, and have taken leave from work only to have their surgeries cancelled at the last minute.
“It’s frustrating and demoralising and the government must explore all available options including increased collaboration with the private sector and weekend operating hours to reduce this list.”