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"Cancellations" keep Kangaroo Island residents waiting for surgery

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Regular surgical cancellations are causing residents of Kangaroo Island to live with ailments that could be fixed, says the head of the island’s health advisory council.

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The Kangaroo Island Health Advisory Council (KIHAC) is the community representative organisation that advises government on the island’s health care services.

Presiding member Darren Keenan said about half of the appointments made with the single surgeon authorised to perform operations on the island were cancelled.

He said island residents faced the choice of a logistically difficult trip to Adelaide for surgery – often requiring accommodation – or living with their complaint.

“In recent times the list hasn’t been … completed; it’s only been getting about 50 per cent utilisation,” he said.

“Either the surgeon is not coming to the island or only running short days.

“Some people choose just not to have these (procedures) done.

“The logistics of (surgery in Adelaide) make it very challenging.”

However, Country Health SA’s regional director for the Barossa, Hills and Fleurieu, Debbie Martin, told InDaily waiting times on the island were within required elective surgery waiting time targets.

“Country Health SA currently has an orthopaedic surgeon practicing at Kangaroo Island Health Service, whose operation waiting list times have capacity and are well within the required elective surgery waiting time targets,” she said in a statement.

“We are aware of the Kangaroo Island Health Advisory Council’s views regarding orthopaedic surgery, and I am happy to sit down and have a further discussion with them about this to ensure the best outcomes for patients living on the island.”

A spokesperson for SA Health said all surgeries on KI were performed within the required timeframes: within 30 days for the most urgent “category one” elective procedures, 90 days for “category two” procedures and 365 days for “category three” procedures.

Keenan said the council had “found a solution” to the problem, and was waiting on Country Health SA to sign it off.

“We have found another qualified orthopaedic surgeon who comes to KI but unfortunately does not have the signature on the page to do surgery on the island,” said Keenan.

“His offer is to complete the gap on the list.

“Country Health SA budgeted this surgery list, so they must have anticipated that this level of need was here.

“We’re not asking for any more money, we’re not asking for a new service, we’re just asking for the one that’s been budgeted for to be completed.”

But Keenan conceded KIHAC’s “solution” would have an impact on the surgeon who currently performs all operations on the island, and that the organisation had not spoken with him about it.

“I don’t want to focus on that person because we have found a solution to this problem, which is for another surgeon to complete the list,” said Keenan.

“It’s not HAC’s job to necessarily get into the operational matters.

“We identified a solution and we gave that to Country Health SA.

“This opportunity found its way to us, so we passed it (on).”

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