A REVIEW into the management of surgical waitlists in the Hunter after doctors said they were being directed to fudge the figures is complete, but will not be made public.
A second report into equitable access to planned surgery in the region, as well as surgical waitlist management, also now completed, will also be kept under wraps.
They were "internal reviews, not formal reports", a spokesperson for Hunter New England Health said.
Staff conducted a poll of 162 surgeons, anaesthetists, obstetricians and gynaecologists in October last year (2022), 93 per cent of whom voted 'no confidence' in Hunter New England Health's (HNEH) management.
The externally validated poll also found that 82 per cent of surgeons said they had been directed to change patients' clinical urgency categories to meet NSW Health's elective surgery benchmarks.
In response, NSW Health appointed an independent organisation to conduct a review of the allocation of clinical urgency categories against NSW Health guidance.
HNEH says it has examined the subsequent report, which "did not identify any significant issues" in the allocation of clinical urgency categories, and have incorporated its recommendations "where applicable".
It has refused to release the report, or the recommendations.
A second, separate review of John Hunter Hospital's governance pathways resulted in the establishment of a committee that includes several senior clinicians, the spokesperson said.
The committee was providing input into surgical services, with a goal of improving internal culture, documentation, and ensuring resources are optimised across all disciplines.
There are no further details being made available, and HNEH has refused to provide a list of the committee's membership.
Meanwhile, data obtained by the Newcastle Herald under freedom of information laws reveals that the number of postponed surgeries across the Hunter has increased by an average 76 per cent over the past four years, as the region grapples with waitlist blowouts.
The number of surgeries postponed or cancelled at Hunter hospitals rose by up to 160 per cent in the four years to the end of 2022, with Belmont Hospital recording the biggest jump - from 179 to 465 between 2019 and 2022, while at John Hunter Hospital the number rose by nearly 20 per cent.
The most recent Bureau of Health Information quarterly report also shows the number of people "waiting longer than recommended" for semi-urgent and non-urgent surgeries increased by 45 per cent (94 people) and 49 per cent (178 people) respectively across the Hunter New England region.
It has the longest queue for a hip replacement, with 410 patients in line for that, compared to the next closest LHD being South Western Sydney with 324.
President of the NSW Australian Medical Association, Dr Michael Bonning, says his organisation was concerned about access to non-urgent surgery both in the Hunter and across the state.
"Non-urgent surgery such as hip replacements are critical services and patients waiting for such services are often unable to work or undertake normal activities," Dr Bonning said.
"Our hospitals are overwhelmed with emergency demand, making it difficult to accommodate non-urgent surgery.
"A lack of workforce, particularly in regional hospitals is a critical and worsening issue."