News & Trends - Medical Technology

Elective surgery suspended as Omicron places significant strain on public and private hospitals

Health Industry Hub | January 12, 2022 |
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MedTech News: Elective surgery has been temporarily reduced to urgent procedures only for public and private hospitals in NSW, VIC and QLD to help hospitals respond to the increasing number of patients with COVID-19.

All emergency surgery and urgent elective surgery will continue.

Premier Dominic Perrottet said the state had met and overcome many challenges over the past two years and dealing with the latest strain was no different.

“We’re dealing with a highly transmissible variant but fortunately it appears to be a much less severe form of COVID-19 and our high vaccination rates are clearly helping to keep people safe,” Mr Perrottet said.

“I want to thank our health care workers for their dedication and professionalism, not only now but during two very hard years.

“To alleviate pressure on the hospital system and staff, we’re extending the usual holiday suspension of non-urgent elective surgery through to February and will utilise private hospital capacity where needed, as we did during the Alpha and Delta outbreaks.

“Public health orders will also be updated next week to include a requirement that people report their positive Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) results, linking those impacted with health support and advice about how they can manage their symptoms from home.” Some minor amendments to restrictions in social settings have also been made.

“These adjustments will allow us to continue to live with COVID and manage the pandemic in a measured and considered way,” Mr Perrottet said.

QLD Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said the decision to postpone category 3 and some category 2 elective surgery had been made to help ensure the system had sufficient capacity to deal with the expected peak of Omicron cases in coming weeks.

Minister D’Ath noted “Postponing non-urgent elective surgeries is an unfortunate but necessary step to ensure Queenslanders can continue to access urgent and critical healthcare if and when they need it.

“Our public hospitals will also be looking to either postpone, or deliver by telehealth, all non urgent outpatient appointments, whether new or follow up, for the same period of time to enable our valuable workforce to be redeployed to support critical service delivery.

“Emergency and trauma surgery and category 1 urgent planned surgery will proceed as normal as will critical services like chemotherapy and renal dialysis.

“We need to do what we can to help our frontline heroes, particularly when, as expected, more and more of our healthcare workers will be away from work due to being infected with COVID-19 or quarantined as a close contact.

”These changes will ensure we still have enough staff available to continue providing essential healthcare to the Queenslanders who need it.”

Minister D’Ath said the decision mirrored the national postponement of routine elective surgery in the early part of the pandemic in 2020, with the same types of surgeries postponed, including for example, hip and knee replacements, cateracts and tosilectomies.

“We will review the situation at the end of January, to determine if we are in a position to recommence non urgent category 2 and 3 elective surgeries earlier than planned,” she said.

“As part of our long-standing COVID response plan we are working to harness private sector capacity to support our COVID-19 response. Options being considered include using private bed capacity for public patients.

”We will continue working with our private hospital partners to finalise these arrangements so they can be implemented over the coming days.”

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