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Opthamology blitz aims to slash QLD's waiting lists

REGIONAL Queenslanders with vision impairment or debilitating eye conditions could benefit from a new ophthalmology blitz the government hopes will slash current waiting lists across the state.

Health Minister Lawrence Springborg said on Monday there are currently 19,028 Queenslanders waiting for an initial ophthalmology appointment.

He said of those more than 11,000 have waited longer than was clinically recommended.

"There are few things more precious to people than their sight and we are determined to give Queenslanders the health care they deserve," he said.

"The government will request proposals from service providers for ophthalmic patients to receive an initial consultation with a contracted provider.

"All required surgical procedures will be completed and non-surgical treatment will be commenced.

"We are also working to develop long-term strategies to ensure the sustainability of public ophthalmic service delivery."

Mr Springborg would not reveal the cost of the initiative saying the cost of the program would be put to tender.

"Thousands of regional Queenslanders will benefit from this program," he said.

"But we want the best deal for Queensland.

"If you tell people how much you think it will cost then you will not get the best deal."

Mr Springborg said the request for proposals would be open to suitably-qualified providers regardless of location.

However, he said there was a preference for local service providers in towns and cities across the state to negate the need for people to travel too far from their homes.

"Local Hospital and Health Services will not be disadvantaged financially and will retain current funding for the delivery of healthcare in line with their service agreement," he said.

Premier Campbell Newman said he anticipated the program would clear the backlog of people who are waiting for eye surgery by mid-next year.

"There have been chronic problems for many years with a growing waiting list of patients needing better access to eye care and we are fixing it by injecting new money to clear the waiting list," he said.

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