Exterior of Lismore Base Hospital.
Exterior of Lismore Base Hospital. Cathy Adams

Nothing wrong with wait times: Health District

THURSDAY 4.20pm: THE Northern NSW Local Health District has hit back at state Shadow Health Minister, Walt Secord's calls to investigate delays for non-urgent elective surgery by citing a Ballina grandmother allegedly having to wait a year for a colonoscopy.

NNSW LHD chief executive Wayne Jones said the health district "manages wait times for clinical procedures according to the recommended timeframes".

"The categories and timeframes were set by clinicians. The patient was assessed and referred by her general practitioner, and subsequently categorised by the specialist gastroenterologist," Mr Jones said.

"It is important to note that, at any time, a patient's clinician can, and will, change the clinical urgency category of their surgery if there is a medical reason to do so, like a change in their condition."

Information about NSW Health Waiting Time and Elective Surgery Policy is available online on the NSW Health website.  


THURSDAY 12.10pm: A GRANDMOTHER has allegedly been told to wait up to a year for a colonoscopy at Lismore Base Hospital.

Shadow Health Minister Walt Secord has called for an immediate investigation into the delays for non-urgent elective surgery and other procedures at Lismore Base Hospital, citing the 52-year-old woman's case.

Mr Secord said the investigation should include whether there is an appropriate level of resources and staffing for the region.

This week, Mr Secord wrote to Health Minister Brad Hazzard to highlight the case of Sharon Gregory, 52 of West Ballina, who requires an urgent colonoscopy.

She is also the mother of three and a grandmother.

Unfortunately, Ms Gregory has a family history of cancer and bowel issues.

In fact, her younger sister, Cynthia Chaffey discovered colorectal cancer recently during a colonoscopy.

Subsequently, the doctor recommended her siblings should be checked.

Ms Gregory promptly organised a referral to a specialist in Lismore, Mr Secord said.

She visited him in September 2016 with a recommendation that she have a colonoscopy.

As she was a public patient, she was referred to Lismore Base Hospital where she was notified of a 12 month wait.

Taking into consideration the seriousness of cancer, this waiting time is excessive.

Health experts agree that discovering the cancer earlier can save lives.

Mr Secord also pointed out that the recent independent Bureau of Health Information research reports that Lismore Base Hospital has some of the longest waits in the State and the second longest waits outside Sydney for non-urgent elective surgery.

As of September 30, 2016, there were 1,593 patients waiting for elective surgery at Lismore Base Hospital.

Mr Secord also criticised local National Party MP for Lismore Thomas George and Tweed Nationals MP Geoff Provest for their silence on health and hospitals, saying it was time they started drawing the state of the health and hospital system to the attention of Premier Gladys Berejiklian and the Health Minister Brad Hazzard.

"Health Minister Brad Hazzard must immediately investigate these delays - and whether there has been an appropriate level of resources and staffing," Mr Secord said.

"Waiting a year for a colonoscopy is absolutely unacceptable - especially, when you are worried about your state of health.

"Telling a grandmother who has a family history of bowel-related cancer to wait a year should not occur. It is unfair and unsafe.

"This is the human cost of a health and hospital system which has been neglected by the Nationals.

"Another day; another problem. Sadly, health and hospitals on the North Coast lurch from crisis to crisis.

"It is time the Nationals stood up for North Coast patients."

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