News in brief: Six year wait for cardiology appointments; Specialist training to expand to private hospitals; 3 Australian universities among best in world for medicine


Six year wait for cardiology appointments

Some patients in South Australia are waiting almost six years for a cardiology appointment in public hospitals, according to latest outpatient waiting time report released by SA Health.

The figures show that for the reporting period up to 31 March 2022 the maximum waiting times for cardiology appointments were 70 months at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, where the median waiting times to see a specialist was 17 months.

Maximum waiting times at other hospitals were 20 months at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital and 18 months at the Lyell McEwin Hospital.

Median waiting times ranged from two to 17 months for cardiology appointments.

Waiting lists have improved since 2018 when the maximum waiting time exceeded three years at many hospitals.

Chief medical officer Dr Michael Cusack said there had been several programs to reduce waiting lists for outpatient appointment, including asking GPs to audit all patients who have been waiting three years or longer in an effort to clear the backlog, a focus on alternative care pathways and putting patients back in GP care after an specialist consultation, rather than clogging the system with ongoing outpatient reviews.

There are also moves to develop centralised waiting lists to address variances in waiting times between hospitals, the Advertiser reports.


Specialist college training to expand to private and regional hospitals

Specialist medical colleges are key partners in the Specialist Training Program (STP) as it seeks to extend vocational training for specialist registrars into settings beyond public teaching hospitals, such as private facilities and regional and rural hospitals, the Department of Health says.

In its 2022-2025 Operational Framework for the STP it says $709 million will be provided by the Commonwealth government over and above the funding from state and territory governments for specialist trainees. The STP seeks to fund additional specialist trainee posts and for specialist colleges to develop new training arrangements outside of traditional metropolitan teaching hospitals.

Colleges will play a key role “due to their role in setting professional standards, accrediting training settings and the coordination and support for education and training of future specialists and college fellows,” the Framework document says.

Specialist medical colleges will receive funding to manage training posts, develop networks and systems for training in private and rural settings and for implementing system wide education support.


3 Australian universities among best in world for medicine

Three Australian universities have been placed in the top 50 rankings for academic excellence in clinical medicine.

Melbourne University was ranked at 14 in the prestigious ShanghaiRanking (formerly Academic Ranking of World Universities or ARWU) Global Ranking of Academic Subjects, with Sydney University being placed at 27 and the University of Western Australia at 32.

The top rankings were dominated by US universities, with Harvard University, the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), Cambridge University (UK), University of Pennsylvania and Johns Hopkins University being the top five ranked institutions.

Other Australian universities appeared lower in the global rankings, including Monash and the University of NSW in the 51-75 ranking range and the University of Adelaide and the University of Queensland in the 76-100 range.

Universities are measured on research output, influence and quality, as well as international collaboration and the number of international academic awards.

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