Patients choosing private hospital for elective surgery to avoid public waiting lists

ORANGE is caught up in a wave of patients opting for elective surgery in a private hospital to avoid waiting times in the public system.

Dudley Private Hospital chief executive officer Trevor Matheson said it was recognised at least two years ago there was a continuing demand for operating theatre time at the private hospital.

“That’s why we are building another two theatres here at Dudley,” he said.

“They should be operational by the end of the year.”

A new report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows twice as many elective procedures are taking place in private hospitals than public.

Mr Matheson said the majority of patients undergoing elective surgery at Dudley were privately insured, however, there were some patients who opted to pay for surgery at the hospital to avoid long waiting lists.

“We do have self-funded patients who come in for hip or knee surgery or replacements, for example,” he said.

Mr Matheson said Dudley hospital carried out a high number of orthopaedic procedures with older patients, but surgery was varied.

“It’s across the board, from children having their tonsils removed to cataracts,” he said.

Mr Matheson said an abundance of doctors who provided specialist services  at Dudley also accounted for the demand in surgery.

“For example, of the 90 members of the medical profession who use Dudley, we have five orthopaedic surgeons and three urologists, with all our theatre time currently accounted for,” he said.

“We also have 12 anaesthetists working out of Dudley. All our surgery is done by local specialists and we don't have any fly in fly out surgeons.”

Mr Matheson said demand for private hospital services in Orange was the catalyst to build a hydrotherapy pool and expand private mental health services.

“We still have the area for further expansion,” he said.

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