Elective surgery access

How long patients wait to for admission from elective surgery waiting lists is a measure of accessibility of elective surgery.

Waiting times measure the amount of time elapsed from a patient being ready for surgery to their admission for their procedure.

Access to elective surgery is affected by demand for elective surgery, the number of surgeons available, demographics of the patient, and how urgently the surgery is required.

This section presents waiting time information for 2018–19 and trends in waiting times between 2014–15 and 2018–19.

Additional information on waiting times for elective surgery by Indigenous status, socioeconomic status and remoteness area are also presented for 2017–18.

Elective surgery waiting times increasing

  • In 2018–19, the time within which 50% of people were admitted (median waiting time) for admission from elective surgery waiting lists was 41 days—compared with 35 days in 2014–15.
  • Median waiting times for Indigenous Australians (50 days) are longer than Other Australians (41 days) for elective surgery.
  • The proportion of patients who waited more than 365 days to be admitted from elective surgery waiting lists increased nationally from 1.8% to 2.1%.

Remoteness matters

  • People living in Remote areas have the highest admission rates for elective surgery (38.3 per 1,000 population) and the median waiting time is the lowest (33 days)
  • People living in Outer regional areas have the longest median waiting time elective surgery (44 days) and are admitted at a lower rate (32.4 per 1,000 population).