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Legislative Council Sitting 27 June 2006 27 June 2006

Question 1 | Question 2

The question number refers to the question order specified in the official Legislative Council Question Paper. To read the answers, scroll down this page or select a link to a question from above.

Question NumberSubjectQuestion from
1Ophthalmology and Orthopaedic Waiting ListsMr Singer, MLC
2Ophthalmology and Orthopaedic Private OperationsMr Singer, MLC

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Question 1 - Mr Singer, MLC

For Written Answer: The Hon Member (Mr Singer) to ask the Chief Minister –

  1. What is the current waiting list to see the ophthalmology and orthopaedic consultants for; i) referrals from GP to consultation; ii) from consultation to surgery
  2. How do these waiting lists compare to; i) 12 months ago; ii) 24 months ago

Answer

In answering the Hon. Member's question it should be noted that in the timescale requested the Department can only provide retrospective waiting times i.e. the waiting times quoted are the time that the last person who received treatment waited to be seen.

The retrospective waiting time for the last patient who was treated should not be confused with the prospective waiting time i.e. the waiting time for a patient who is currently waiting. The prospective waiting time will vary depending on the increase or decrease in the staff and resources available whilst the patient is waiting. An increase in staff or resources available will reduce the prospective waiting time and a reduction in staff and resources will increase the waiting time.

The Department is not able to calculate prospective waiting times without a diversion of resources away from usual duties to manually interrogate each patient file. It has not been possible in the timescale available to divert sufficient resources to provide this information.

In the case of both ophthalmic and orthopaedic services the prospective waiting time will be less than the retrospective waiting time as the staff and resources devoted to these services has recently been increased. A second ophthalmic surgeon was appointed in March 2006 and a third orthopaedic surgeon appointed in September 2005.

Due to the retrospective nature of the information any increase in staff or resources is not reflected in reduced waiting times until some time after additional resources have been made available.

a) Current Waiting Times (as at 31st May 2006)

ServiceNo. Patients WaitingWaiting time for last patient who received treatment
Ophthalmology813current longest wait was 31 months
Orthopaedic Surgery784current longest wait was 13 months
Back Surgery *227current longest wait was 19 months

From consultation to surgery

ServiceNo. Patients WaitingWaiting time for last patient who received treatment
Ophthalmology546current longest wait was 15 months
Orthopaedic Surgery344current longest wait was 11 months

b) How do these waiting lists compare to –

12 months ago - referrals from GP to consultation

 No. Patients WaitingWaiting time for last patient who received treatment
Ophthalmology847current longest wait was 20 months
Orthopaedic Surgery 1,171current longest wait was 19 months

12 months ago - from consultation to surgery

 No. Patients WaitingWaiting time for last patient who received treatment
Ophthalmology374current longest wait was 15 months
Orthopaedic Surgery 264 current longest wait was 18 months

24 months ago - referrals from GP to consultation

 No. Patients WaitingWaiting time for last patient who received treatment
Ophthalmology410current longest wait was 12 months
Orthopaedic Surgery673 current longest wait was 10 months

24 months ago - from consultation to surgery

 No. Patients WaitingWaiting time for last patient who received treatment
Ophthalmology269 current longest wait was 12 months
Orthopaedic Surgery442current longest wait was 12 months

It is extremely important to note that in order to place the changes in waiting times in context, they must be considered along with the changes in activity. The changes in demand for both Ophthalmology and Orthopaedic services during the same period were:

Ophthalmology Activity The Ophthalmology services saw a small decrease of 8.1% in the number of in-patients and a significant increase in both new out-patients, of 12.8%, and those returning for follow-up appointments, of 11.6%.

Orthopaedic Activity There has been exceedingly strong increased demand for orthopaedic services. The number of patients being treated as in-patients has increased by 36.9%, the number of new out-patient appointments by 71.7% and the total number of out-patient appointments by 16.6%.

Question 2 - Mr Singer, MLC

For Written Answer: The Hon Member (Mr Singer) to ask the Chief Minister –

  1. What is the agreed proportion of NHS to private operations, performed by the ophthalmology and orthopaedic consultants in NHS facilities
  2. Are these consultants’ performances in line with the agreed NHS/private split
  3. Please detail each consultant’s performance in a table form, showing their NHS/private operations compared to the agreed figures in the two specialities identified in (1)

Answer

In response to Part (a) of the Hon Member’s question the Department does not stipulate the proportion of time which should be spent on private work, as opposed to NHS work.

The Department agrees a job plan with each individual consultant which specifies the NHS work which they will carry out for the Department. Once they have completed this work, the Consultant can, if they choose, provide services on a private basis.

The Department has no authority to place a limit on the private work carried out by a Consultant, where this does not affect work contractually required for the Department. The limiting factor for private work is usually availability of theatre space as NHS work has priority.

Consequently the information requested in part (c) of the question cannot be provided. The Department can, however, confirm that all the Consultants fully meet the contractual requirements of their NHS Job Plans.

It is, however, possible to provide an indication of the number of theatre procedures carried out privately, compared with those carried out on behalf of the Department.

Financial Year Total theatre procedures % NHS% Private
2005/069,939 90.4%9.6%
2004/05 9,349 92.0%8.0%

In considering these figures it should be noted that if a Consultant reduced the amount of work carried out on a private basis this would not result in an increase in work for the Department. Work on a private basis is in addition to any work carried out under the NHS contract job plan. Thus, private and NHS work are not interchangeable.

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