Woman told to wait 1700 days to see a specialist

Monday, 12th February, 2018

Trish Ollman has been told that she has to wait more than 1700 days to see a specialist. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong.

TRISH Ollman always believed the public health system would look after her if she was sick. 

But facing years languishing without treatment, the disability pensioner now has other ideas. 

She has already been trying to see a urologist for more than a year with her bladder no longer functioning properly. 

Mrs Ollman can't urinate properly and without treatment or possible surgery she faces years of agony. 

Despite her GP recently helping to escalate her urgency level to category two, she was shocked to discover she still faced an almost five-year - or up to 1700-day - wait just to get an appointment with a specialist. 

If the specialist determines she needs surgery, it is only then she would be placed on the elective surgery waiting list and face more possible long delays.  

Clinical guidelines state category two patients should ideally be seen within 90 days of being added to a waiting list. 

"You could have picked me up off the floor," Mrs Ollman said. 

"Back in November, I thought I'd be done with treatment by New Year so it was a huge shock."

Unable to live with her condition, which could deteriorate further, she and husband Ian now have to find the cash to pay for her treatment outright. 

And things are already tight in the family, both living off pensions and with custody of their teenage daughter. 

"I said to my doctor, I've got no other option do I?" Mrs Ollman said. 

"If there's a 1700 day wait for a chronic illness that a doctor describes as serious then the system is dead."

"We'll just have to find the money and sell whatever we can.

"Knowing I've got no other option but to go private is really quite a strain."

The unknown is placing further stress on Mrs Ollman, with her condition unable to even be diagnosed until she is seen by a urologist.

"ACT Health should hang their heads in shame," she said. 

"I'm just very very disappointed and find the whole thing unbelievable.

"If there's a 1700-day wait for a chronic illness that a doctor describes as serious then the system is dead. 

"If it's come to this, the system needs a complete overhaul."

And Mrs Ollman's story is not unique, with patients and doctors telling similar stories to The Canberra Times. 

An orthopedic patient - who has already been waiting to see a specialist for nearly two years -  was recently told it could be a further 800 days before he gets an appointment with a surgeon. 

ACT Health said it had experienced workforce issues in urology following the loss of its training accreditation in 2015.

"This issue has now been rectified and in late 2017 we were reaccredited," a spokesman said.

"We now have several advanced trainee registrars working in urology and over the next 18 months we expect to see a significant reduction in the urology wait list.  

"This will include no category two urology patients waiting over 1000 days by the end of this calendar year."

Canberra Times

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