The easiest cut: managing elective surgery in the public sector

Patrick C Cregan
Med J Aust 2005; 182 (12): . || doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2005.tb06842.x
Published online: 20 June 2005

The problem of surgical waiting lists requires multifactorial solutions

The provision of public hospital services inevitably involves managing the demand for these services. This is usually achieved by rationing. Elective surgery is the easiest service for health administrators to manipulate to meet budget imperatives and to manage demand pressures, through controlling surgical waiting lists. In short, the pestle of demand grinds against the mortar of budget restriction in the management of elective surgical lists. Although health planners are able to accurately predict demand for surgical services, administrators often plan not to meet that demand because of budgetary restrictions.

  • Patrick C Cregan

  • Nepean Hospital, Sydney, NSW.


Competing interests:

Westmead Hospital, the subject of the report by Schofield et al, is now included in the Sydney West Area Health Service Surgical Network, but did not belong to it at the time of the report.


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