A RECORD 1300 patients are on the surgery waiting list at Warrnambool Base Hospital with some being strung out for more than a year.
The revelation by city council mayor Jacinta Ermacora adds urgency to the need for a government funding commitment to stage two of the hospital’s redevelopment to double the operating theatre and emergency department capacity.
“With the city’s expanding population and the need for greater quality care capacity, it’s really important to have these upgrades,” Cr Ermacora told this week’s city council meeting.
Warrnambool’s waiting list is believed to be one of the longest in regional Victoria and the surgical procedures allowance for some categories was exceeded after only three months this year.
However, urgent cases are still given priority over non-life-threatening ailments.
As well as coping with an expanding and ageing local population, the hospital is also handling more patients coming from the Portland region.
Cr Ermacora said the hospital had only three operating theatres but needed five, plus a day surgery unit.
“There are only nine bays in the emergency department, yet they need 17,” she said.
“With 1300 patients on the surgical waiting list it is the longest ever for Warrnambool.”
South West Healthcare management and board declined to comment, but local state MP Denis Napthine said Warrnambool’s list was not as long as other major Victorian hospitals. “Our government has treated Warrnambool as a case of special need by allocating extra operating funds to meet population growth, ageing and the change in usage patterns with more patients from Portland area,” he said.
“The budget increased this financial year by 8.1 per cent to $101.5 million following a 6.1 per cent increase in 2011-12 to $94.4m.
“Plus we also have $5m sitting on the table as forward funding for the proposed cancer centre.
“We are considering stage two of the redevelopment and an integrated care centre as two separate projects and would hope to get a commitment from the federal government.
“Warrnambool has been blessed in not having much of a waiting list before and its current list is certainly not the worst in Victoria. If you need urgent surgery, it’s done.”