NSW: Fed up surgeon warns more will die

Date: 2/23/2005; Publication: AAP General News (Australia);

SYDNEY, Feb 23 AAP - A leading Sydney surgeon who quit in frustration warned today
more cancer patients would die unless urgent action was taken to reduce surgical waiting
lists.

Professor David Morris resigned last month as divisional director at St George Hospital
because he believed it was wrong to make patients wait up to six months for an operation.

Prof Morris said today he'd had great difficulty coping with the death of two people
who had been waiting for treatment.

"The thing that I felt was something I really couldn't cope with, was the length of
time our cancer patients were waiting (for surgery)," he told reporters.

"I basically only operate on cancer and we have got patients with liver cancer waiting
three months before their surgery.

"For the more complex procedure of peritonectomy, we currently have people waiting
six months and I don't think those waiting times are appropriate.

"I think it's something I can't be part of in an administrative sense."

Prof Morris said he believed more people on waiting lists for cancer treatment such
as mesothelioma and pseudomyxoma peritonei would die unless a solution was found to the
chronic waiting list problem.

Australian Medical Association (AMA) president Bill Glasson said waiting lists were
to blame for doctors like Prof Morris resigning from their posts across Australia.

"In frustration at seeing these people languishing on waiting lists doctors say `I
can't stand it, I'm out of here' because you feel responsible for the list," he said.

"It's your waiting list and therefore it's your responsibility."

A tremendous capacity within public hospitals was under-utilised and the public was
not aware of this, Dr Glasson said.

"There are teams of surgeons and nurses who stand around waiting to have access to
theatres," he said.

Health Minister Morris Iemma said he was disappointed by Prof Morris' decision to step down.

The NSW government had offered additional support to Prof Morris' specialist cancer
unit last year, Mr Iemma said.

"I met with David last year and we made a special allocation to David Morris' unit
at St George of $2.5 million," he told reporters.

"I might also add that (of) the $2.5 million that was allocated, we've received very
little result in the sense of what outcomes were achieved ... but it (was given) on the
basis of wanting to continue to work with David and his unit."

The NSW opposition called for an independent investigation into Prof Morris' claims
people had died while waiting for treatment.
 

2005 AAP Information Services Pty Limited (AAP) or its Licensors.



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