Waiting list growing at hospitals

HUNDREDS of Tweed people, young and old, are living in constant pain as they wait for their name to top a lengthening waiting list for elective surgery.

Slowing down their wait are Queenslanders, who make up almost a third of elective surgery patients at hospitals in the Tweed Valley.

This is the sad picture that recent medical statistics, released by shadow health minister Barry O'Farrell, paint for people needing elective surgery on the Tweed.

Confirmed by the North Coast Area Health Service (NCAHS), the statistics show how elective surgery waiting lists on the Tweed have blown out by 144 per cent in 12 months.

They show there are now 1075 people waiting for elective surgery at Tweed Hospital, compared with 77 people in March 2004.

They demonstrate how, over the past 10 years, more and more people are being forced to wait more than 12 months for surgery at Murwillumbah Hospital. In 1995 one person had to wait more than 12 months, this year 106 are waiting.

Tweed Valley Division of Gen- eral Practice spokesperson and practising GP Dr Graeme Burger said the Tweed was desperate for more resources and funding to allow people to have surgery on time.

"From a GP's point of view, we see it as a major issue and do require resources to address it.

"There are no doubt our needs are greater than other areas," he said.

"We have double the population of over-65-year-olds than other places and these people need four times as many medical services as the rest of us.

"You have got to say, looking at that, the hospitals should be resourced four times as much, but it is just just not happening."

Tweed MP Neville Newell hit back, saying an extra $1 million had been secured to assist patients in the Tweed who are waiting at least 12 months for surgery.

"By the end of June 05 an extra 628 longer-wait patients will have received surgery," he said.

He also pointed to the new Emergency Medical Unit at Tweed Hospital as working hard to free up hospital beds.

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