A 16-year-old Hervey Bay teenager waited 8 days for surgery on his broken collarbone at Hervey Bay Hospital
A 16-year-old Hervey Bay teenager waited 8 days for surgery on his broken collarbone at Hervey Bay Hospital contributed

Surgery wait times broken: MP pushes for faster response

HERVEY Bay's member of parliament believes locals are waiting too long for emergency surgery despite the Health Minister's claims to the opposite.

Ted Sorensen says his electorate's hospital does not have the resources to cope with the increase in population across the holiday period as his office has been inundated by complaints from people waiting more than seven days for emergency surgeries. However Minister for Health Steven Miles is adamant the region's theatre teams are performing more surgeries than ever before.

He also said more was being done within clinically recommended times.

As one of the recent examples, Mr Sorensen highlighted the case of a 16-year-old Hervey Bay boy who broke his collarbone diving during an Oz Tag match on December 4 but only received what was classified as 'emergency surgery' on December 13.

A 16-year-old boy waited 8 days for emergency surgery on a broken collar bone at Hevrey Bay Hospital.
A 16-year-old boy waited 8 days for emergency surgery on a broken collar bone at Hevrey Bay Hospital.

The teenager and his mother, who have requested not to be named, were initially given the option of surgery or a more conservative, non-surgical treatment and chose not to have surgery.

However, on a second opinion from an orthopaedic surgeon for the complicated break, the injured teenager returned to the hospital the next day and requested surgery where he was referred to the specialist Fracture Clinic on December 6.

From this point on, the Year 11 St James Lutheran College student's mother said her son was forced to fast while waiting on a call from the hospital.

Following multiple false alarms and one instance where, due to a miscommunication, the teenager ate believing he would not be seen that day, his mother, fed up with watching her son unable to move and writhing in pain, sought Mr Sorensen's help.

"I understand life-threatening surgeries need to be prioritised but nine days later for surgery which is 'emergency' is ridiculous. His collarbone was not set and it could have started to heal in this position," she said.

"The staff were lovely when we were there but I don't think they have enough resources.

"I just don't want this to happen to anyone else.

"He is starting TAFE next year for an apprenticeship and he really needs this to heal correctly if he is going to have a career as a carpenter."

Mr Sorensen, who has long campaigned for more resources at Hervey Bay Hospital, said his electorate's population of 38,118 swells to about 70,000 in the holiday season.

"If they are waiting this long now, how are they going to cope when there are more people here?," he said.

"I have written to the Health Minister about this. People with broken collarbones should not have to wait more than a week for surgery."

Mr Sorensen said this was not the first time someone with a broken collarbone had an extended wait for surgery at the hospital.

Another Hervey Bay man, who requested not to be identified, broke his collarbone playing sport in August and waited 11 days for 'emergency' surgery to fix it.

Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service acting CEO Debbie Carroll said WBHHS had among the country's best elective surgery wait times.

"Our patients can be confident that they will almost always have their procedures well within clinically recommended time frames," she said.

"However, our surgical teams are constantly required to balance the demands of both emergency and elective surgeries to ensure the needs of all our patients are met, and this will occasionally result in some patients having their procedures rescheduled. At all times, our teams aim to re­schedule these procedures within the wait guidelines.

"While WBHHS is confident (the teen) received appropriate care at all times, we acknowledge the discomfort and pain he would have felt while awaiting surgery."

Ms Carroll said the boy was assessed as a Category E patient under the Emergency Surgery Access Guidelines which meant the surgery had to be completed within 10 days of the fracture clinic appointment on December 6.

"(The teenager) received his surgery on December 13, which was within 10 days of his fracture clinic appointment on December 6," she said.

In relation to the other male patient in August, Ms Carroll said the WBHHS was confident the man received the appropriate care at all times.

"We acknowledge the discomfort and high level of pain that (the man) would have felt while awaiting surgery," she said.

The patient was also accessed as Category E patient and had his surgery on September 11th, which was also within 10 days of his fracture clinic appointment as his appointment was on September 5, although he broke his collarbone on August 31.

Dr Miles said "the hardworking theatre teams in Wide Bay do a fantastic job performing surgeries on sick and injured Queenslanders".

"They're performing more surgeries than ever before and more within clinically recommended times," he said.

"The Palaszczuk Government is investing a record $644 million in healthcare in the Wide Bay region this financial year - $29.8 million more than last year."

The Chronicle understands Hervey Bay Hospital has four operating theatres that are used for elective and emergency procedures.

Maryborough Hospital has three operating theatres that are used for elective procedures although not all theatres operate 24/7.

There is 24/7 emergency surgical roster for patients who present outside normal theatre hours and who need immediate surgery.