Elective surgery restart will depend on hospital PPE supplies | The Canberra Times


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A ban on elective surgeries will be officially lifted on Monday, but hospitals will not commit to conducting procedures again until they are certain they have the resources. Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said on Wednesday that 25 per cent of surgeries put on hold would be able to go ahead, but the number of procedures conducted would be based on each hospital’s capacity. “They’ll be asked to develop surgical lists on the need to balance up keeping some bed capacity free for a potential surge in demand for COVID patients as well as the patients who meet the (category 2 elective surgery) criteria,” she said. “It will vary from hospital to hospital … Patients due for their surgery will receive advice from the hospital when their surgery is booked.” IN OTHER NEWS: The easing of restrictions on elective surgery has been helped by the extra availability of protective equipment and the relatively low number of COVID-19 cases. Both factors have meant the pandemic has not placed as much demand on beds as had been feared initially. Surgeries which will able to go ahead include: Category three and most category two surgeries were cancelled in March to help hospitals deal with the expected surge in coronavirus cases. In Western Australia, Department of Health director general David Russell-Weisz said hospitals and clinicians would prioritise the most urgent cancelled surgeries. “This is an incremental start. We have to balance this increasing elective surgery with making sure we keep our ward and ICU capacity as free as possible for any COVID increase,” Dr Russell-Weisz said. He said health providers would be issued with guidelines on Thursday and selected patients would be contacted this week for surgeries to commence on Tuesday next week. Albury Wodonga Health pandemic response director Sally Squire could not guarantee when the surgeries would restart. “AWH is examining the announcements by the Prime Minister and the Federal Health Minister regarding the timing of the reintroduction of elective surgery,” she said. “We are awaiting more information including advice from the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services to ensure we have the PPE, workforce and bed availability to support resumption of elective surgery. “We would seek to make informed decisions with the relevant stakeholders prior to recommencing any elective surgery.” Consultant urological surgeon Jonathan Lewin said there would not be a return to previous levels of surgery, but there was a reasonable stockpile of personal protective equipment for the short term. “If we use up all of our PPE right now to start doing non-essential, very routine surgery, we’re not going to have that available to us if we do get a peak – there has to be that balance,” Dr Lewin said. “I think until the government actually gives us some clarity on what type of cases, and also what stock of PPE they’re going to provide us, it’s a little difficult to say exactly where everything sits.” Ballarat mother Jane was very happy to hear the IVF was back on the list of allowed procedures. Just before the elective surgery ban came in, she had her eggs collected and has been waiting to go through the next step of getting the embryo transferred. But she said she was one of the lucky ones because she got to that point. “You’ve already taken the drugs and that process is difficult enough, let alone your provider saying to you ‘sorry but we can’t proceed with the egg collection’,” she said. “When you’re going through IVF you feel like time’s running out … A month delay could be like a lifetime for us.” The next step was deciding whether to go through with the process at this time, when she is still a chance of getting coronavirus – especially in a medical clinic. “You’re aware of COVID and you’re actually risking getting it by being in a day procedure,” Jane said. “That was really scary.” After a conversation with her husband, they decided they would go through with the next step, but she would have to go in alone. “I’ll have to do it myself, we’re not going to risk two people,” she said. “Normally he’d be with me all time but we’re not going to do that. I’m just going to minimise the risk by being there by myself rather than have two people who might get it.” If you’re looking to stay up to date on COVID-19, sign up for our twice-daily digest here.

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