Surgical specialty

The surgical specialty describes the area of clinical expertise held by the doctor performing the elective surgery.

This section presents information on 11 categories of surgical specialty. The ‘other’ category contains data for surgeons whose specialty was not one of the 11 specified categories.

In 2015–16, the surgical specialty data element was revised to include Paediatric surgery. Use of the Paediatric surgery category varied among jurisdictions. For 2016–17, Paediatric surgery was reported by Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory. New South Wales commenced reporting Paediatric surgery in 2017–18. Before this change, records for which the surgical specialty was Paediatric surgery would have been allocated to another surgical specialty or ‘other’ (surgical specialty other than one of the 10 specified specialties).

For caveat information for these data see table 4.5, 4.6 and S4.1, available to download from the data section of this report.

Changes over time

Between 2013–14 and 2017–18:

  • the surgical specialty with the lowest the time within which 50% of patients were admitted for the awaited procedure was Cardiothoracic surgery, ranging between 16 and 19 days
  • the time within which 50% of patients were admitted for the awaited procedure increased for Otolaryngology, head and neck surgery, Neurosurgery, Orthopaedic surgery, and Vascular surgery. The largest increase in waiting time for 50% of patients was for Otolaryngology, head and neck surgery —from 70 days in 2013–14 to 83 days in 2017–18.

Comparisons over time should take into consideration the differences in reporting of Paediatric surgery between 2016–17 and 2017–18.

Waiting times in 2017–18

In 2017–18:

  • Otolaryngology, head and neck surgery had the highest time within which 50% of patients were admitted for the awaited procedure (83 days).
  • Cardiothoracic surgery had the lowest time within which 90% of patients were admitted (85 days).
  • Otolaryngology and head and neck surgery had the highest proportion of patients who waited more than 365 days to be admitted (5.2%).

Where to go for more information

Information on admissions from elective surgery waiting lists by Surgical specialty are available in the Elective surgery activity: Surgical specialties section.

Information on data limitations and methods is available in Appendix A and Appendix B