The latest Bureau of Health Information [BHI] report showed patients in this semi-urgent category rose from 532 to 787 over these corresponding quarters.
The semi-urgent category refers to patients who are clinically recommended for treatment within 90 days.
At Maitland Hospital, the semi-urgent waiting list rose by 46 per cent from 149 to 217 patients over the compared quarters.
In the Hunter New England district overall, the semi-urgent surgery waiting list rose by 29 per cent from 1538 to 1983 patients over this period.
Australian Medical Association [AMA] NSW president Dr Michael Bonning said the most urgent surgeries were the main focus during limited services in the pandemic.
Dr Bonning said the semi-urgent surgeries were "the cases that fall in the middle".
"They're incredibly important," he said, but many of these cases were delayed due to COVID.
"What we've seen in the last six to seven months is the resumption of all services. We're back to full outpatient lists and running our hospitals, looking for all things.
"When we look for more things and provide more care, we find things that need to be acted upon."
BHI chief executive Dr Diane Watson said the latest quarterly results show "ambulance services and emergency departments experienced record demand".
"The upward trend in activity that began before the pandemic continued," Dr Watson said.
Also in the January to March quarter, elective surgeries performed at John Hunter Hospital rose by 29 per cent.
The bureau report showed 1791 elective surgeries were performed at the region's largest hospital in the three-month period. This rose from 1385 elective surgeries in the same quarter last year.
Elective surgery at Maitland Hospital rose by 43 per cent over this period, from 371 to 529.
Elective surgery also rose by 19 per cent - from 5857 to 6977 - in Hunter New England hospitals as a whole.
In NSW, there are three categories of elective surgery: non-urgent [365 days], semi-urgent [90 days] and urgent [30 days]. These are "clinically recommended maximum waiting times", the BHI said.
Dr Bonning said the former and current NSW governments had got elective surgery "back on track to pre-pandemic levels".
He said there was a big focus on "how to deliver pre-planned surgery well".
"We are moving most planned surgery back into the public system, which is where it belongs," he said.
"We want our public hospitals properly funded to deliver services to public patients."
The government had outsourced some surgeries to private hospitals under contract.
In March, though, the new Labor government announced the NSW Surgical Care Taskforce to tackle waiting lists.
Dr Bonning said the taskforce is "really focused on the 14,000 patients [statewide] who have waited longer than clinically recommended".
In the Hunter New England district, 928 patients were waiting longer than recommended for surgery at the end of the January to March quarter, a rise of 505 patients from the same period last year.
Dr Bonning said most of these patients are "waiting for semi-urgent and non-urgent surgeries".
"The taskforce wants to get that number down. People shouldn't be waiting longer than is clinically indicated for their surgery," he said.
"These are people in pain with reduced function."
Dr Bonning said the taskforce was reducing this waiting list with some extra money, but mainly through "working on efficiencies".
"The new government is working directly with surgeons, anaesthetists and theatre staff. They are asking, how can we make your surgical service function better?
"That is exactly how you need to approach these issues - ask the people on the frontline what they need to do their job."
He gave an example as "scheduling time a bit differently to enable more surgeries to be completed".
"We don't want clinicians saying they could have delivered more service today and wanted to, but the rest of the pieces weren't in play for them to do it."
In Hunter New England emergency departments, there were 107,068 presentations from January to March this year.
This was a rise of 4 per cent [4009 people] compared to the same quarter last year.
"We're really starting to push the envelope with ED attendances. The system keeps pushing up and up," Dr Bonning said.
He partly attributed this to the "increasing burden of chronic disease".
"And we have a new virus that doesn't constrain itself to seasons. COVID waves keep coming in and out, as opposed to one cycle of flu every year."
A Hunter New England Health [HNEH] statement said public hospitals across the district "continue to perform well, despite sustained demand for high-level emergency care".
The statement said there was a "record number of complex presentations to the district's EDs".
Susan Heyman, HNEH acting chief executive, thanked staff for their "commitment to delivering safe and compassionate care to the community".
Ms Heyman said an "unprecedented number of patients" [14,781] presented with an "imminently life-threatening condition" - a "record high for the district".
The BHI report said 66 per cent of patients in Hunter New England emergency departments started treatment on time in the quarter, compared to 67 per cent across the state.
"Almost 8 in 10 patients (79 per cent) were transferred from ambulance to hospital staff within the 30-minute benchmark, which is better than the state average (78 per cent)," Ms Heyman said.
She said 59,346 presentations at Hunter New England emergency departments were "in the semi-urgent and non-urgent categories".
"While it's encouraging to see fewer people visit our emergency departments with less urgent conditions, more than half of all presentations still did not require urgent, lifesaving or critical care," she said.
"We aim to see every patient as quickly as possible, but the most unwell patients will always be prioritised and treated first, meaning those with less urgent conditions may face a wait, especially during times of high activity.
"We remind everyone to support us by saving our emergency departments for saving lives, especially as we come into the winter season."
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