Waiting, waiting, waiting

THE number of patients waiting for elective surgery at Fairfield Hospital has increased by more than 200 over the past year, statistics released by the Bureau of Health Information indicate.

New data for the December quarter shows the total number of patients on the waiting list for elective surgery at the hospital increased from 1301 to 1529 over the past year.

The report revealed patients at the hospital were now waiting 259 days for knee replacements, up from 212 days a year ago. The median-average wait time for orthopaedic surgery was 225 days; 210 days for hip replacements.

Opposition health spokesman Andrew McDonald said the Liberal government's cuts were taking their toll.

"Every healthcare worker in the region will tell you the hospital system is struggling," Dr McDonald said.

"We have some of the best trained hospital staff in the world but even they can't fill the huge holes left behind by massive funding cuts."

He said the Liberal government had ripped $21 million out of the staffing budget for South West Sydney Local Health District.

Another $46 million looked set to be cut over the next financial year.

Smithfield Liberal MP Andrew Rohan disagreed.

He said the 2013-14 budget had increased by $66.4 million.

"Labor's claim about an 'elective surgery crisis' at Fairfield Hospital is a joke," Mr Rohan said.

"According to the latest Bureau of Health Information data for the December quarter . . . 98 per cent of patients are receiving surgery within the time frame recommended by their doctors."

"That's not much of a crisis."

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