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About the Surgical Services Taskforce

The Surgical Services Taskforce (SST) was established in 2004 in New South Wales (NSW) to optimise access to elective surgery for patients within the NSW Health system and to develop solutions to manage surgical wait lists.

Originally the SST was charged with resolving the immediate issue of thousands of overdue surgical patients in NSW. The Taskforce set about developing strategies for the provision of high quality, patient centred and accessible surgical services across NSW, however quickly expanded its role to encompass the oversight and implementation of strategies for the management of surgical services across NSW. This included assisting the NSW Ministry of Health in monitoring the performance of health services providing advice on the delivery of surgical services in NSW, supporting evidence-based, appropriately resourced and patient centred surgical care delivery and implementation of quality improvement initiatives.

In 2012, the SST transitioned from NSW Ministry of Health to the Agency for Clinical Innovation, however continues to work closely with the Ministry of Health, and with System Purchasing Branch in particular, on monitoring surgical performance across the state and a number of program and quality improvement projects. Since 2004 the SST, in partnership with NSW Ministry of Health, LHDs and pillar organisations, has delivered a number of achievements in surgical services, including:

  • a reduction in excessive wait times and urgent overdue surgical patients
  • development of the Predictable Surgery Program
  • the establishment of 23hr wards and the introduction of performance targets for Local Health Districts and Specialty Health Networks
  • revision of the NSW elective surgery waiting times policy and
  • development of a surgical dashboard to regularly measure and monitor key performance indicators
  • Emergency surgery, surgical futures and surgical models of care published
  • Minimum standards for the management of hip fracture in the older person
  • Surgery Redesign School program
  • Operating theatre efficiency guidelines
  • Implementation of the ACS National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP)
  • Operating theatre productivity index development and pilot

Members of the Surgical Services Taskforce are appointed at the discretion of the Chair and Chief Executive of ACI, with care taken to ensure representation from surgical specialty representatives, program directors of surgery from NSW Local Health Districts and Specialty Health Networks, as well as organisational members from the NSW Ministry of health, Clinical Excellence Commission and NSW Branch of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons. Based on ongoing and emerging priorities, contemporary literature, regular discussion with members and partners, there are a number of key priorities for the SST in 2019/20 and beyond:

  • improving healthcare and outcomes for people with hip fracture,
  • improvements in operating theatre efficiency,
  • enhancing implementation and sustainability of surgical quality improvement programs,
  • identifying and addressing unwarranted clinical variation in surgical care and
  • surgical management of rare and complex cancers.