The NSW government is being urged to boost the number of nurses to help tackle the elective surgery backlog after it was revealed the waitlist has blown out to more than 100,000.
The latest Bureau of Health Information data shows elective surgery procedures dropped almost 60 per cent per week in NSW during the height of COVID-19 in March and April when non-urgent surgery was put on hold.
NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association general secretary Brett Holmes says nurses will be under pressure to catch-up the waiting list backlog during the December-January holiday period.
"We're urging the government to bring forward the roll-out of extra nursing staff now if they intend go down this path, rather than relying on nurses to pick up the pace and the overtime needed, under current staffing," he said.
"This government has been exploiting the goodwill of nurses and midwives for too long. They've been on the frontline, keeping us all safe during this one in a hundred year pandemic, and now they're expected to simply keep going.
"Nurses and midwives already feel unsupported and undervalued, thanks to the government's cruel wage freeze."
BHI data released on Wednesday shows there were 101,026 patients on waitlists on June 30 - up 20.1 per cent from the same day last year.
Of those, 10,563 had waited longer than the clinically recommended time - a massive rise from the 541 logged on the same day in 2019.
NSW Labor says the state government must stop hiding behind the impact of COVID-19 and fix the waitlists for elective surgery.
"The reality is the NSW public health system was under enormous strain before elective surgeries were suspended. This crisis has been years in the making," Labor health spokesman Ryan Park said on Wednesday.
The BHI also found:
* median non-urgent surgery wait times increased to 301 days - up 55 days;
* one-in-10 patients are waiting 420 days for non-urgent elective surgery - up 61 days;
* median wait times for cataract extraction hit 324 days - up 64 days;
* and median wait times for total knee replacements grew to 321 days - up 27 days.
Australian Associated Press