The oral health team for WBHHS, pictured at the Maryborough clinic, is up for a state award.
The oral health team for WBHHS, pictured at the Maryborough clinic, is up for a state award.

Massive wait time turnaround leads to award nomination

TURNING around dental wait times in the last year has put the Wide Bay Oral Health Service in the running for a Premier's Excellence Award.

Winners from the Keep Queenslanders Healthy category in the statewide awards will be announced tonight.

It comes as, since January, the WBOHS team turned its performance around from patients waiting up to three years for general dental treatment to a maximum wait of 22 months.

This result is now within the clinically recommended time frame of two years.

The team's work led to a 50 per cent increase in activity, about 17,000 patients being treated and a reduction in the waiting list from 15,646 people in September 2018 to 8939 in June 2019.

Acting operations director of oral health Vivienne Barker said the changes came after the team reviewed its processes, resources and patient flow, before putting in place a comprehensive action plan.

"This really has been a huge team effort driven by better patient outcomes, and our team is very excited to be attending the Premier's Excellence Awards as a finalist tomorrow night," she said.

"Wide Bay has the highest number of people eligible for public dental services in Queensland, presenting a significant challenge for our health service - but one we've embraced.

"We focused on targeting immediate wait list management, including through giving people the option of turning up and waiting for a cancelled appointment.

"We noticed a number of people weren't turning up for their appointments and weren't notifying us, so we didn't want those to go to waste and we wanted to give people the chance to pick up quick last-minute urgent appointments if they were prepared to wait.

"We also coupled that with changes to our overall processes and governance structures, to enable the improvements to be sustainable."