Huntly woman’s operation on hold

A HUNTLY woman says she may have to wait up to two years for surgery. 

Tracy McQualter said she had been on the Austin Hospital waiting list for about seven months and the Bendigo Health waiting list about five months. 

She has carpal tunnel syndrome, which affects her daily, and said a doctor recently told her it could take two years before her operation went ahead. 

“I’m quite scared of permanent damage if I don’t get it done,” she said. “I wake up every night with pins and needles in my hand. 

“It’s affecting my daily life, I’m not getting any sleep and I’ve got numb fingers which interferes with my work as a typist.”

Ms McQualter, 46, is one of almost 1000 people on local waiting lists who are likely to experience further delays following recent federal government funding cuts. 

She said it was almost impossible to find out any information about her surgery. “There’s a phone number to ring to speak to a patient nurse,” Ms McQualter said. 

“You leave a message and call a mobile but no one returns a call on either phone.  They don’t tell you if you’re actually on the list.”

Ms McQualter had a nerve conduction test at the Austin. She said a doctor told her there were long waiting lists at Bendigo and recommended she join the Austin list. 

She said she was put on the Bendigo waiting list after several months, and was still waiting.

But a Bendigo Health spokesperson said the longest person waiting for carpal tunnel syndrome surgery was at 65 days. 

The spokesperson said while she couldn’t address individual cases, people could be offered dates that didn’t suit or a doctor error could mean a patient wasn’t added to the list. 

“At Bendigo Health we aim to treat all patients as quickly as possible,” she said. “carpal tunnel is normally a category three, which has a treatment target of 365 days. We run at 90 to 93 per cent.”

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