How do I get on the Waiting List?

Your General Practitioner (GP) will provide you with a letter of referral to a Specialist. You will then need to book a consultation with this specialist. The specialist doctor then decides if you require surgery. Once the decision has been made for you to have surgery your doctor will complete a "Request for Admission" form and send it to the hospital.

When the hospital receives your form, you will receive a letter of notification that you have been placed on the waiting list.

When you are booked for surgery staff from the Surgical Bookings Office will then contact you with a date for your admission. They will try to give you four weeks notice in writing, or if you have advised the hospital that you are available at short notice they will call you should a cancellation occur.

Why am I waiting?

People admitted to ACT hospitals are classified as either emergency or elective patients. Emergency patients are patients whose condition suggests admission within twenty four hours. If your doctor feels that you require surgery, but it is not an emergency, you will then be placed on the waiting list to be admitted into hospital at a later date.

You are placed on the waiting list in order of medical priority. This enables us to make sure that the sickest patients are treated first. Your doctor will indicate on the booking form how urgently your surgery is required. In some cases this will be within days, in other cases within months. Mostly it will be months that you have to wait.

What influences my waiting time?

The length of time you wait for admission is affected by a number of factors, including the type of treatment you need, who your specialist doctor is and the hospital at which you are to be admitted.

Your waiting time may also be affected by:

  • Changing health needs of the community

  • Seasonal factors, for example in the winter months an influenza (flu) epidemic can affect the number of available beds for post surgery patients, and elective surgery will sometimes be deferred because of the high demand placed on beds for other urgent cases. Emergency surgery continues all year round.

  • Day Surgery is the term for patients waiting for treatment that do not require an overnight stay in hospital. Day surgery patients often have a shorter waiting time.

  • The number of patients referred to the specialist.

  • The amount of operating time the specialist doctor has allocated to him/her by the hospital.

What can I do if I am unhappy with my waiting time?

Discuss your individual situation with your GP. If you feel that your condition has deteriorated, your GP may be able to discuss your situation with your specialist or refer you back to your specialist for a reassessment of your condition. Your specialist may choose to alter your clinical urgency category, which may reduce your waiting time.

If I have Private Health insurance does this expedite my surgery?

Public Hospitals provide care solely on your medical need and having private health insurance will not expedite your admission to a Public Hospital.

If you have private health insurance or the ability to pay you may wish to consider having your procedure undertaken in a private hospital. If you are exploring this option it is advisable to discuss all of the fees with your specialist, and health fund. Not all surgery can be provided in private hospitals.

What do I need to do before my surgery?

Before your surgery you will be given a Pre-Admission Clinic appointment (PAC). At this time a nurse, anaesthetist and a doctor who is a member of your specialist’s team will assess you. This is to ensure that you are ready for your surgery. All patients are required to attend a PAC appointment before surgery; non-attendance will result in your surgery being cancelled.

Please allow up to two hours for this appointment, as you may need to have some tests, such as an x-ray, blood test, ECG etc.

If you have advised that you are available for short notice you will be given a PAC appointment so that you are ready to go ahead should a cancellation occur. This appointment lasts up to 6 months so you will not need to go again before your surgery.

PAC is an excellent opportunity for you to ask any medical questions that you may have thought of since seeing your specialist.

What happens if my surgery is postponed?

Sometimes it is necessary to defer your surgery. Should this occur you would be given priority for re-booking.

If you need to postpone your surgery it is important that you notify the Surgical Bookings Office before your surgery. If you do not notify the hospital and do not arrive for your surgery you will be cancelled and your Request for Admission paper work will be returned to your specialist.

Other questions?

If you have any other questions about admission to a public hospital in the ACT for elective surgery call the Territory Wide Surgical Service Team on 6205 1122.

Contact us

If you're waiting for surgery at either Canberra Hospital or Calvary Public Hospital and are concerned about your waiting time, call Surgery Access on (02) 6205 1122.