News in brief: Five year wait for respiratory specialist appointments; Long Covid advice for asthma patients; 3 Australian universities among best in world for medicine

Wednesday, 27 Jul 2022

Five year wait for respiratory specialist appointments

Some patients in South Australia are waiting almost five years for a respiratory specialist 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 respiratory specialist appointments in the state was 58 months at Flinders Medical Centre.

Maximum waiting times at other hospitals were 55 months at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and 25 months at Lyell McEwin Hospital.

The hospitals with the longest median waiting times were Flinders Medical Centre (16 months) and the Royal Adelaide Hospital and Queen Elizabeth Hospital (9 months).

Waiting times have improved somewhat since 2019 when median times to see a respiratory specialist were 18 months at some public 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 a 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.

Long Covid advice for asthma patients

People with asthma are being urged to get a respiratory specialist referral if they have ongoing respiratory symptoms after Covid infections.

Asthma Australia says that while there is no agreed definition of Long Covid, patients should seek medical help if they continue to have symptoms such as shortness of breath and cough at six weeks after having Covid 19.

If you have asthma, it can be hard to know what is Long Covid and what is asthma. The signs do cross over,” it says.

“Don’t assume that you have either asthma or Long Covid without getting checked. It is risky to let your asthma go under-treated while thinking you have Long Covid. If you are not getting better after 6 weeks of having COVID-19, speak to your doctor.”

Asthma Australia notes that there is no specific treatment for Long Covid yet, but some things that may help include supervised rehabilitation that includes exercise and education programs and possibly breath retraining exercises.

Getting a referral to specialty services where needed such as a respiratory physician or cardiologist may also be needed, it says.

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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