Australian patients pay up to beat chronic health queues

Australian patients are paying for private treatment to avoid queues at crowded public hospital emergency departments as the state's casualty crisis deepens, says the Sydney Morning Herald.


  • Baulkham Hills Private Hospital and Sydney Adventist Hospital, two of three Sydney private hospitals with emergency facilities, reported a 30 per cent rise in the number of admissions this year.

  • The nurse unit manager at Baulkham Hills Private says the number of patients visiting its emergency department had risen by nearly one-third compared with the same period last year.

  • At Sydney Adventist, which has the state's largest private emergency section, doctors now see 21,000 patients a year.

    The growth of private hospitals has been the result of long lines at state-run facilities. It was recently reported that most patients were forced to wait an average of eight hours in public hospital emergency rooms, says the Herald. State Opposition health spokeswoman Jillian Skinner said the numbers flocking to private hospitals were a reflection of the lack of community trust in the public sector.

    "There are patients who come here because they're not prepared to wait," says Skinner. "We get that all the time. Patients are seen very quickly by the nurse and then they may have to wait a short while for the doctor. The longest anyone has had to wait is three hours."

    Source: Caroline Marcus, Patients pay up to beat chronic health queues, Sydney Morning Herald, August 5, 2007.

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