Private hospitals working to address elective surgery backlog


The latest data from the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority shows there were 995,540 episodes of care in private hospitals during the three months to the end of September.

The Australian Private Hospitals Association (APHA) said this represents an increase on the previous quarter with the sector working to address the pandemic backlog.

APHA acting CEO Lucy Cheetham said this was encouraging for Australians who have been left languishing on waiting lists for important surgery. However, she warned long waiting lists are likely for some time.

“This is a serious situation for those affected patients and the healthcare system. These are surgeries and other treatments that have been deferred but they will need to be done at some stage and include procedures like total knee and hip replacements or cataract surgery that impact a patient’s ability to move around or to see,” she said.

“It is encouraging that more people will have access to private hospitals so we can address the surgery needs when the COVID situation settles,” said Ms Cheetham.

“In its report to the Senate the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has suggested ‘deferred claims’ not used to address the elective surgery backlog should be taken into consideration when the Health Minister considers premium increases.

“The APRA report indicates health insurers have more than doubled their profit to $1.8 billion in the 12 months to the end of September. Therefore, the Minister should look very closely at any insurer trying to increase their premiums while still holding on to large amounts of their member’s money in the form of deferred claims,” added Ms Cheetham.