Wednesday, February 08, 2006


Hospital waiting lists blow-out hits 544 per cent

You see why about a third of Australians go private

Queenslanders are being forced to wait longer for urgent surgery in the state's troubled public hospital system, which is performing fewer operations than it did a year ago, according to elective surgery waiting-list figures released yesterday. In spite of more than $170 million promised by the Beattie Government in the past three years to reduce waiting times for elective surgery, yesterday's waiting list report indicates the Government has failed to make any inroads into waiting times.

The number of people waiting more than 30 days for urgent category one operations increased by a massive 544 per cent during the last three months of last year compared with the same period 12 months before. Category one operations include most cancer and heart procedures which can lead to death if not performed. In the same period the number of people waiting more than 90 days for semi-urgent category two operations increased by 281 per cent. Patients in category two are likely to have severe pain, severe fractures, blocked arteries, some tumours, and some types of bowel surgery.

More here

Baby dies 'waiting for ambulance'

Queensland health authorities have launched an investigation after a 14-month-old girl died while waiting for an ambulance. The girl's grandmother, who did not want to be named, said today the baby died yesterday afternoon after waiting to be transferred by ambulance from Gympie Hospital in south-east Queensland to Nambour Hospital in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. "She had to wait over three hours for an ambulance," the grandmother said. "As she was getting into the ambulance, my granddaughter started frothing at the mouth and my daughter asked a registered nurse what's wrong." The mother was told to get into the ambulance with her daughter. "Within two to three minutes, my granddaughter was dead in my daughter's arms," the grandmother said.

Emergency Services Minister Pat Purcell said the death of the girl was a tragedy but the ambulance had not taken three hours to arrive. "The Gympie Hospital requested an ambulance transfer within two hours to another hospital and the ambulance crew arrived in one hour and 25 minutes," Mr Purcell said. He could not comment further until the matter had been fully investigated. A spokesman for Queensland Health Minister Stephen Robertson said the matter had been referred to the coroner.

Opposition emergency services spokesman Ted Malone called for an open inquiry into the response time of the ambulance. "Sadly, we are hearing of long delays for ambulances every day," Mr Malone said. "In this case, the minister may be saying that the ambulance got there within a reasonable time, but long delays for ambulances are occurring all too often."

Last week, a pregnant 15-year-old Mareeba girl with life-threatening complications was left waiting two-and-half hours for an ambulance to take her from Mareeba Hospital in north Queensland to Cairns, about 60km away. The baby died at Cairns Hospital the following morning. A preliminary report by the Queensland Ambulance Service into that incident blamed "human error" but recognised that while mistakes had been made, it appeared to be a one-off occurrence and not a systemic issue.



Half of all hospitals in England are failing to control the MRSA superbug in line with government targets in spite of a drive to improve awareness and ward hygiene, it has emerged. The latest figures for methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) released yesterday, reveal that the NHS is highly unlikely to achieve the goal of cutting rates by 50 per cent within the next two years. Specialist “hit squads” are being sent into 20 trusts facing the biggest challenges in reducing rates of the infection, which is thought to kill thousands of patients each year.

Jane Kennedy, the Health Minister, described the lack of progress as disappointing after the introduction of a series of high-profile government initiatives to address the issue. The data shows that there were 3,580 cases of MRSA bloodstream infections reported in England from April to September 2005. This was up from 3,525 for the same period the previous year, while the 2004-05 total of 7,269 represents only a slight drop in year-on-year comparisons.

In 2004 John Reid, the Health Secretary, set a target of reducing MRSA bloodstream infections by half — from an annual rate of 7,684 cases to 3,842 by 2008. But the Department of Health said yesterday that although about half of acute trusts were on target to meet this pledge, half were behind target.

Ms Kennedy said the NHS had to do better if it was to halve rates in two years’ time. “I am disappointed that despite many trusts making significant reductions in infections the overall figures do not reflect these improvements,” she said. She said that the “hit squads” would start work in Sandwell, Northumbria and Aintree NHS trusts before moving on to another 17 organisations facing difficulties with MRSA reduction over 2006



For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL hospitals and health insurance schemes should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the very poor and minimal regulation. Both Australia and Sweden have large private sector health systems with government reimbursement for privately-provided services so can a purely private system with some level of government reimbursement or insurance for the poor be so hard to do?

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