Premier Horgan suggests B.C. moved too quickly to postpone elective, scheduled surgeries

B.C. Premier John Horgan says the one thing he regrets in the province’s COVID-19 response is moving too quickly to cancel scheduled and elective surgeries.

Speaking on a broad number of issues in a year-end interview with Global News, Horgan says the province could have avoided pushing back many surgeries.

“In hindsight, suspending elective surgeries, there wasn’t the surge we had anticipated in our acute care system,” Horgan said.

“We could have potentially relieved some pain from British Columbians a little bit earlier.”

Was it the right decision to cancel B.C. surgeries during coronavirus outbreak?

Was it the right decision to cancel B.C. surgeries during coronavirus outbreak? – May 7, 2020

On March 15, the province announced “fundamental changes” to the acute care system and cancelled all non-urgent, scheduled surgeries in a bid to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

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The province never experienced the surge on hospitals and capacity pressures expected. On May 18, the province resumed elective surgeries in an attempt to clear a backlog of more than 30,000 procedures cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read more:
B.C. to increase enforcement of COVID-19 rules

The resumption of surgeries and the resources allocated to fast-track surgeries has an estimated cost of an additional $250 million on the health-care system.

“Even thought I felt that maybe we should have waited a bit longer … we were able to make up for it on the extraordinary work in the health-care system,” Horgan said in the year-end interview.

Click to play video 'B.C. health minister announces plan to resume backlog of cancelled elective surgeries'

B.C. health minister announces plan to resume backlog of cancelled elective surgeries

B.C. health minister announces plan to resume backlog of cancelled elective surgeries – May 7, 2020

Aside from hospitals, the provincial government has faced significant challenges in long-term care facilities. The government moved to a single site staffing plan, investing additional money in wages to ensure workers only needed to work at one care home.

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The province put in severe restrictions for visitors to long-term care, meaning many residents have not seen loved ones face to face since the pandemic began.

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Both seniors advocate Isobel Mackenzie and the head of the BC Care Providers Terry Lake called on the the province to use rapid COVID tests at long-term care facilities for staff and essential visitors. The province has rejected the idea.

“I take my advice not from the internet but from Dr. Henry. She is telling me that this is not the time to implement the rapid testing in long-term facilities because it will just lead to more false positives that will lead to more confusion, staff staying home and things people don’t think through when they say this would be the easiest thing to do,” Horgan said.

Click to play video 'Calls for new approach to help B.C. long-term care residents during pandemic'

Calls for new approach to help B.C. long-term care residents during pandemic

Calls for new approach to help B.C. long-term care residents during pandemic – Dec 1, 2020

British Columbia counted heavily on the carrot approach rather than the stick. The province, for most of the pandemic, refused to strictly enforce COVID-19 rules when it came to breaking COVID-19 regulations in the province.

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But as the second wave of the virus came and cases soared, B.C. announced plans to have more people enforce the rules. This also included a requirement to wear masks indoors in public spaces.

“You need to do things when you do them. I know that sounds glib to people watching at home. We had extraordinary pickup from the people at home to the advice from Dr. Henry. Our communities were responding way better than other provinces to asking people to use their common sense,” Horgan said.

“If we brought them i when cases were really low people would have dismissed the regulations.”

Click to play video 'B.C. NDP’s pandemic election gamble pays off, wins majority government'

B.C. NDP’s pandemic election gamble pays off, wins majority government

B.C. NDP’s pandemic election gamble pays off, wins majority government – Oct 25, 2020

In 2020, the B.C. premier because the first NDP leader in the province to be re-elected. His decision to call a snap election paid off, leading the NDP to their largest majority in the province’s history with 57 seats.

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As for Horgan’s own future, he hasn’t given it much thought yet.

“I am going to keep doing this until the people tell me they don’t want me around any more. I am optimistic British Columbians want to pull together and I am going to listen to them,” Horgan said.

“Ellie (Horgan’s wife) didn’t mention it this morning when I went to work what she wanted me to do but we will have those conversations closer to 2024.”

The full year end interview with Premier Horgan will air on Global BC on Jan. 1, 2021 at 6:30 PST

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Argentina becomes largest Latin American nation to legalise elective abortion | World News

Argentina has become the largest nation in Latin America to legalise elective abortion despite a last-minute appeal by Pope Francis.

After a 12-hour session the country’s senate passed the law by a comfortable 38-29 margin, two years after a similar measure failed in a close vote.

The legislation, which President Alberto Fernandez has vowed to sign into law shortly, guarantees abortion up to the 14th week of pregnancy and beyond that in cases involving rape or where a woman’s health is at risk.

Tweeting after the vote, Mr Fernandez wrote: “Safe, legal and free abortion is now the law.

“Today, we are a better society that expands women’s rights and guarantees public health.”

Vice President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner had reversed her opposition to the legislation

Abortion is already allowed in Uruguay, along with Cuba and Mexico City in other parts of Latin America, but the legalisation in Argentina is expected to have a big impact in the region.

Pro and anti-abortion rights activists had gathered outside the senate building, with the bill’s mostly female supporters wearing green which has symbolised their movement.

The crowd of a few thousands cheered and hugged as Vice President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner announced the result.

Hours before the senate session began, Pope Francis – Argentinian himself – had tweeted: “The Son of God was born an outcast, in order to tell us that every outcast is a child of God.

“He came into the world as each child comes into the world, weak and vulnerable, so that we can learn to accept our weaknesses with tender love.”

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro also criticised the decision. He tweeted: “I deeply regret for the lives of Argentinian children, now subject to being ended in the bellies of their mothers with the state’s agreement.”

A similar bill was voted down by Argentine senators in 2018 by a narrow margin. This time it was backed by the centre-left government, and was boosted by the so-called “piba” revolution from the Argentine slang for “girls”.

The feminist movement within Argentina has demanded legal abortion for more than 30 years. Supporters cite official figures which claim more than 3,000 women have died from clandestine abortions in the country since 1983.

The legislation allows health professionals and private medical institutions to opt out of the procedure, but they are required to refer the woman to another medical facility.

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How to Safely Restart Elective Surgeries After a Covid Spike

The pandemic has wreaked havoc with health care systems’ surgical staffs. Some clinicians are fatigued and stressed, and many are out of practice. They are having to contend with large backlogs of procedures that were postponed. And they have to contend with the ongoing pandemic, with all its uncertainties. To keep surgical staffs and patients safe during these difficult times, health systems should take four steps: make risk visible; ensure that staffs are abiding by existing procedures and protocols and adopting new ones when the need arises; double down on efforts to address psychological safety and the added stress; and be transparent and account for the current environment.

In our work across the country, we are witnessing health care systems in different stages of the Covid-19 pandemic that are trying to address the backlog of elective or nonurgent surgical procedures that were postponed during the initial wave of the pandemic. To safely address it and prepare for future needs to adapt care and priorities based on the ongoing pandemic, systems need to recognize that basic human factors, exacerbated by Covid-19, can threaten the safety of patients and staff and then develop strategies to mitigate them. They include the following:

  • Fatigue. During the pandemic, health care systems redeployed many providers for months to treat Covid-19 patients, and they witnessed extraordinary levels of morbidity and mortality. These providers may be physically and emotionally exhausted.
  • Lack of routine practice. Most surgeons have not practiced at their normal rates (or at all) for several months. As a result, many haven’t had the normal daily or weekly engagement with their technique or their team and need practice to keep up their technical skills; this is most important for surgeons who perform complex procedures. Teams also need to re-establish effective communication patterns.
  • Distraction. Health care systems are creating new procedures and policies because of Covid-19, and staff have not had time to get accustomed and incorporate them into their practices.
  • Overload. Ramping up operating room capacity (some systems are aiming to reach 150%) means surgeries will occur off-peak and at unusual hours. It may also mean that staff are being asked to participate in new or multiple surgical teams. These conditions can make staff more vulnerable to making mistakes or forgetting to take critical steps.
  • Stress. Some providers suffered emotional stress from caring for a deluge of Covid-19 patients, falling ill themselves, or suffering the illness or death of family or friends.

Fortunately, health care systems can identify these threats and mitigate them in order to ensure that surgical teams tackle the backlog of procedures in a failure-free fashion. The following steps, based on reliability science, provide a foundation for doing so:

1. Make risks visible. One of the greatest challenges in safety is not being able to physically see the possible risk prior to a problem arising. The individual surgical team needs to know how it is performing in the moment. In addition to the ongoing monitoring of the patient during the procedure, the surgical team should ask patients questions prior to the procedure to address their physical and mental health and plan for the pre- and post-op care. They cannot assume a patient’s circumstances from six months ago are the same now; patients may be hesitant to disclose changes to their ability to care for themselves or obtain the help they need after surgery.

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National medical specialty societies can help make these additional risks visible by redoubling their efforts to get health care systems and physicians to track the high-level outcome measures specific to individual specialties daily, weekly, and monthly. Comparing their current performance to their past performance and that of similar systems in their area will allow them to identify whether safety-related risks are increasing.

Health care system executives should play a significant role in identifying risks and protecting both their workforces and their patients. They must create a dashboard that tracks safety and quality priorities, including adverse events and mortality; make sure it is updated daily; and look at it every day as an executive team. Executives should be able to identify trends in outcomes (positive or negative), be aware of key trigger points, and change course or stop the system if outcomes deteriorate.

2. Honor existing procedures and protocols and adopt new ones as needed. Surgical safety checklists and similar tools must be used with every surgery. We know that these tools help control for human factors and improve surgical outcomes. With increased time pressures there is considerable temptation to move through safety checks quickly and superficially, avoid them altogether, or have them performed by a single person rather than a team. All health care providers and administrators must resist the temptation to cut corners and skip established safety steps as they tackle the backlog of surgeries.

Due to Covid-19, health systems created new precautions to keep patients and staff safe. Prior to turning the surgical system back on at full or increased capacity, executives and care providers at all levels (e.g., frontline leaders and department heads) should ensure that these processes and procedures remain in place. Leaders and surgical care providers should continue to review these new or adapted processes as more is learned about this disease.

3. Double down on efforts that address psychological safety and the added stress. Health care systems should ensure that all supervisors are trained to accurately identify warning signs of psychological stress and make counseling services available to all of their clinical staffs. Some health systems have gone further and have created peer-to-peer “buddy” systems to provide extra support. Others have created mechanisms for clinicians to express a need for a break or further time for preparation without negative consequences.

Leaders of health care systems should ensure that their staffs have a way to raise a concern about an individual provider or provider team, call out a possible safety failure, and, if necessary, “stop the line.” They should make it clear that they not only want them feel safe to do this but also that it is their job to do so and they will be recognized for their vigilance.

4. Be transparent and account for the current environment. Health care systems should share their safety plans and outcome data publicly. Let your patients and their families know that your organization is safe, that you recognize the current environment, and that you are taking every precaution necessary to ensure that patients and family members remain safe with respect to both Covid-19 and the outcome they are expecting from their surgery.

This requires continuous tracking of the prevalence of Covid-19 in the local community (i.e., the positivity rate for the people who have been tested). Health care systems can use the data the states are tracking at the county or city/town level, the rolling weekly average case rate in the communities that the health system serves, and the inpatient case burden (i.e., the number of people currently hospitalized for Covid-19 as compared to overall capacity) both in their own system and in others in their area. Maintaining clear decision trees for when to shut down elective procedural care again and keeping patients and families informed of this possibility is vital to maintaining public confidence.

As health systems continue to adapt to Covid-19 and address the stress it is imposing, their leaders, along with their workforces, must intensify their focus on safety and quality. It requires a strong understanding of human factors — those always present and those exacerbated or created by the pandemic. And it requires implementing processes and procedures that make systems stronger and safer amid new and rapidly changing circumstances. Reopening safely will require attention to reliability science, ensuring physical and psychological safety of the workforce, and continuous monitoring of the state of the local Covid-19 pandemic. Only then will patients, their families, and providers feel safe to return.

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Victoria records 42 COVID-19 cases, Daniel Andrews flags elective surgery resumption for regional areas, Brett Sutton to front hotel quarantine inquiry, Australia death toll at 824

Ms Mikakos skirted around the questioning, saying the government setting up the hotel quarantine inquiry showed it took the problems seriously and she “won’t be providing a running commentary about what other individuals might say in evidence”.

Ms Crozier responded angrily: “The minister again is going round in circles, trying to defend her position in relation to the issue, which is the guidelines – the very specific guidelines – that you are meant to implement and monitor.”

That drew a more animated response from the Health Minister, who accused the opposition of hypocrisy.

“Those opposite at every opportunity have sought to attack the Chief Health Officer and his advice … So you cannot have it both ways, Ms Crozier, you cannot on one hand say publicly the Chief Health Officer’s guidelines, directions and rules are no good, then on the other hand come in and say ‘why aren’t you following the guidelines or the legal directions?’” Ms Mikakos said.

“We think the work the Chief Health Officer is doing is very important. It’s about time you actually backed in the Chief Health Officer, backed in the science, backed in the data, and worked with the Victorian community to drive down those case numbers and in fact to save lives.”

Ms Mikakos revealed yesterday she has given a statement to the hotel quarantine inquiry but has not yet been asked to appear to give evidence. She also rejected Ms Crozier’s question on warnings given to her about hotel quarantine in April.

“The [inquiry] board can consider who knew what when. You can make whatever assertions you like, it does not make it true, Ms Crozier,” the Health Minister said.

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Postponing elective surgeries due to COVID-19 might have pushed the opioid crisis to the next level

Knee replacement. Cancer surgeries. Organ transplants. Worldwide, tens of millions of elective surgeries have been postponed because of the coronavirus. Public health officials have had to balance patients’ urgent need for treatment against the very real danger of potentially immune-compromised individuals being exposed to the virus in a hospital setting, and the need to reserve hospital capacity for COVID-19 patients. 

But the decision to postpone these so-called elective surgeries may have severe consequences—including deepening the opioid crisis. Based on what we already know about the connection between preoperative pain management and opioid dependency, the coronavirus pandemic is creating a perfect storm. 

Before the virus hit, we had hardly even begun to grapple with the opioid crisis. And now, the coronavirus crisis risks sending millions more people down the road to medication dependency.

When most people hear the word “elective,” they typically assume that means “cosmetic.” But in hospital terms, an elective surgery is simply any surgery that’s scheduled—in other words, not an emergency. In most cases, these are not cosmetic procedures; they are urgently needed surgeries to deal with serious medical issues. And right now, all kinds of procedures, including cancer surgeries, organ transplants, and other lifesaving treatments, have been postponed. Some hospitals have started scheduling elective surgeries again, but the very real risk of a second wave of coronavirus cases could put these patients at risk once more. 

The population potentially at risk is enormous: In a typical year, 51 million people have inpatient surgery, whether elective or emergency, and over 80% of them are prescribed opioids after surgery—even when the surgery was low risk.Most patients with upcoming surgeries are prescribed opioids to manage their pain while awaiting treatment. For example, opioids are commonly prescribed for hip, knee, and shoulder surgeries; for neurosurgical and orthopedic spine patients (including people suffering from chronic back pain); for colorectal surgeries, including tumor removals; and for thoracic, head, and neck cancer patients. 

Delaying surgery means patients will be taking these medications for longer before they’re treated, greatly increasing the odds that they’ll become dependent. Even patients who’ve never used opioids before surgery have a 10% chance of becoming dependent. But patients who’ve been using opioids to manage pain before surgery have a 70% chance of remaining on opioids years later. Cancer patients who need chemotherapy after their surgeries are also at a higher risk of long-term opioid use.

Right now, the risk of long-term dependence is likely even higher, because of the severe anxiety associated with delaying cancer treatment in particular. Anxiety and catastrophizing tend to make pain harder to manage. And if patients are prescribed benzodiazepines, such as Valium, Ativan, or Xanax, for anxiety, their risk is compounded. The risks associated with benzodiazepines (or “benzos”) aren’t as well known as the risks of opioid use, but there is a significant risk of long-term dependency even for new users of these medications. People who use both opioids and benzodiazepines at the same time are at risk of respiratory depression and even death. And even if patients escape those severe consequences, benzodiazepines are also known to make opioids stronger—potentially setting off a vicious, even deadly, cycle.

Patients whose surgeries have been delayed urgently need support throughout the period they’re using opioids, including pre-surgery and eventually post-surgery. They need evidence-based solutions that will help them manage their pain. For some patients, injections have enormous potential as a highly focused way to block pain receptors. For others, physical therapy or mindfulness practices can help manage pain and anxiety. A growing body of evidence shows that mindfulness can reduce chronic pain, and it’s also proven to have a significant positive impact on depression and quality of life issues. Cognitive behavioral therapy has also been proven to be effective at treating anxiety, depression, and chronic pain. 

In many cases, with evidence-based interventions like these, patients can manage their postsurgical pain with non-opioid medications. (Lucid Lane offers telehealth counseling services for people with medication and substance dependence and other mental health disorders, and could benefit financially from some of the treatments described in this article.)

Opioids do have a role to play in pain management, including the management of chronic pain. But even after years of headlines over the opioid crisis, these drugs remain worryingly overprescribed and undermonitored. One study of post-surgery prescriptions from 2011–2016 found little change during the period, despite increasing awareness of the long-term risks of even a short period of opioid use. Doctors and surgeons still need more training in both how to manage pain and how to help patients safely taper off these medications once their surgeries have been performed. Patients need support to ensure that circumstances beyond their control don’t send them down the path to a lifelong struggle with chemical dependency.

The COVID-19 crisis has created a host of unprecedented challenges for us as a society. We’re struggling with record unemployment, political unrest over the question of when and how to reopen businesses, and deep, painful questions over racial divisions. But another crisis is looming behind all these urgent problems—a crisis that, if we do not face it head on, could also be with us for years to come. 

Without strong, evidence-based support for patients awaiting surgery, the COVID-19 crisis risks creating an enormous new wave of the opioid crisis. These patients are in pain. They need our help to manage that pain without creating a dependency problem that could haunt them for the rest of their lives.

Adnan Asar is CEO of Lucid Lane, founding chief technology officer of Livongo, and former global head of technology at Shutterfly.

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The personal impact of the elective surgery backlog

The delays in elective surgeries thanks to the pandemic, though required, have been tricky to offer with for all those suffering, writes Alyce Sala Tenna.

ON TUESDAY 7 April 2020, I been given a phone phone from the Alfred Hospital in Victoria as affirmation for epilepsy neurosurgery the next Friday. The objective of the neurosurgery was to manage my drug-resistant epilepsy.

The contact had been anticipated and tentatively prepared since going through revolutionary investigative operation just prior to Xmas. Fourteen probes were being surgically inserted into my mind to check brainwave action for 1 week.

Beforehand, using typical monitoring solutions experienced proved to be quite complicated. Soon after many years of remaining unsure where the seizure zone was in my brain, the region was finally confirmed. Health professionals were eventually able to provide a probable healing option — epilepsy surgical procedures. The operation had a 50% opportunity to halt the seizures, nonetheless, the likelihood to regulate the seizures with medication was a slim 5% prospect.

Probe incision wounds from the investigative medical procedures (Image supplied)

After receiving the news that I was without a doubt a medical procedures candidate for my drug-resistant epilepsy in December, just about every 2nd of the day dragged though I waited for the hospital to connect with with a affirmation of operation date. At this stage, I had been identified and suffering the impacts from epilepsy for 23 several years — around 3-quarters of my daily life.

In the months that followed, I cleared my e-mail inbox, unsubscribing from all electronic mail activity so that I would be alerted with e-mails only from the hospital. I held my breath in the hope it was the medical center calling each time I obtained a simply call from a non-public quantity. I barely slept at night time and when I did, I dreamt of the operation I experienced been ready for considering that I was a teenager. My impending freedom from seizures likely awaited me.

Jim's Mowing and Karen's Bunnings dangerous adventures

In March, the Federal and Condition Governments declared a maintain on any course two or three surgeries. Surgical procedures have been quickly on maintain to redistribute professional medical sources in the anticipated inflow of coronavirus sufferers in April.

Although my epilepsy surgical procedures had been labeled as semi-urgent, it was nevertheless classed as class Two. My reaction to hearing the information prospective delays to course two and a few elective surgeries was like struggling through the operation devoid of anaesthesia, paralysed without just about anything I could do. Notwithstanding what I was suffering from on an psychological level, my uncontrolled seizures that lingered for the duration of this time ended up incredibly risky. For example, the working day I gained confirmation of surgical procedures in April, my associate came house to find me lying on the floor in a pool of my very own blood from a head harm I might sustained during a seizure.

Nonetheless, I gained acceptance for surgical procedures from the Alfred Healthcare facility amid the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to a robust drive of urgency by the medical professionals. Months soon after the procedure, I am now minus a smaller portion of my still left frontal lobe. I have only seasoned two seizures, as opposed to the 20-odd I would have seasoned experienced I not gone through surgical procedure.

Initially night time publish-procedure from epilepsy neurosurgery (Image supplied)

Australia confronted a backlog of 400,000 elective surgery instances according to an intercontinental examine revealed in The British Journal of Surgery. Worldwide, the similar review projected that the overall selection of adult elective operations cancelled has been 28 million just in the COVID-19 12-week peak, or 2 million for each week.

In Might, the Key Minister agreed to resume all elective surgeries. Now, in a entire circle, Victorian Premier Dan Andrews has announced elective surgeries in Melbourne and regional Victoria are to be postponed, except for class just one and the most urgent category two procedures.

Adding to the backlog is the variety of people ditching personal wellbeing care because of charge, position losses and the worsening economic downturn. In accordance to the latest Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, additional than 10,000 people have cancelled procedures just in the first quarter of this 12 months. Men and women that could be evenly distributing the load to non-public and community hospitals. Elective surgical procedures will also be minimized to no additional than 50% of common exercise across all public hospitals and 75% in non-public hospitals.

My epilepsy was screening at the very best of situations, the two in my expert and private existence. Any hold off to the wait grew to become practicably insufferable. Although I am not arguing the elective surgery ban is unneeded in Victoria, the delay only amplified the impacts from my epilepsy.

We applaud all all those who have and carry on to perform so really hard on our entrance line to take care of the COVID-19 pandemic successfully. Having said that, we now want to feel about running the repercussions to the health and fitness process. How will Australia’s health and fitness process prioritise the 400,000 additionally elective surgical procedures candidates? When elective surgical procedures are back on, will further sources be utilized to run to catch up on the backlog? Finally, how will every single affected person be prioritised?

Alyce Sala Tenna lives in Perth, Western Australia. Outside of managing her epilepsy, Alyce works at a consultancy as an environmental scientist.

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Tasmanians in limbo after coronavirus causes elective surgery cancellations in Victoria

Heather Carroll had been hoping and praying her next surgery would put an end to 17 months of severe pain from a back injury.

The Tasmanian had surgery in Melbourne to implant a spinal stimulator on Monday, and was scheduled to have it removed next week.

But after the Victorian Government suspended all but category one and the most urgent category two elective surgeries, Ms Carroll does not know when the procedure will happen.

“The risk of infection because those [spinal stimulator] leads are hanging out of my back that go straight into my spinal cord is very high, so it can only be in for about a week,” Ms Carroll said.

“It’s a nightmare.

“In the lead up to this surgery for over two weeks, every day I’d be frantically sitting there listening to [Victorian Premier] Dan Andrews’ daily update thinking, ‘please don’t cancel elective surgery, please don’t cancel elective surgery’.”

Heather Carroll says her constant pain is impacting on her ability to enjoy her life.(Supplied: Heather Carroll)

Ms Carroll and her husband Alan Carroll are self isolating in a hotel room in Melbourne while they wait to for news about her next surgery.

She said they felt they had no choice but to travel to Victoria for the spinal stimulator trial.

Patients facing uncertainty should contact their GP

Urgent and category one elective surgeries are continuing in Victoria and most types of surgery can be performed in Tasmania, so the number of Tasmanians affected is relatively small.

Tasmanians usually travel to Melbourne for complex heart, brain and spinal surgery.

The Tasmanian president of the Royal Australasian College of General Practitioners, Dr Tim Jackson, had a patient whose heart surgery in Melbourne was cancelled.

After consulting with his cardiologist he was able to arrange for the surgery to be done in Hobart.

Dr Jackson said any Tasmanians who have non-urgent elective surgery scheduled in Melbourne should contact their GP.

“The best thing to do would be for the patient in that situation to check in with their general practitioner first and then, like I did with my patient, refer them onto their specialist and have the discussion there,” he said.

The rules of Tasmania’s Patient Travel Assistance Scheme stipulate that surgeries must be done at the nearest available and suitable facility, which is usually in Melbourne.

AMA Tasmania President 2020 Dr Helen McArdle
Australian Medical Association Tasmanian president Dr Helen McArdle.(Supplied: Australian Medical Association)

The Tasmanian Health Service said the scheme will fund patient travel to New South Wales or Adelaide if necessary.

The Australian Medical Association’s Tasmanian president, Dr Helen McArdle, said it was likely doctors would take Victoria’s COVID-19 outbreak into consideration when deciding which surgeons to refer patients to.

“The treating doctor would wisely look at areas with a lower level of COVID, both South Australia or Queensland if it’s appropriate for that care, given the high level of COVID in Victoria and the demand on the hospital, and also the risk to any patient going over there,” Dr McArdle said.

Tasmanian surgical patients in Melbourne faces barriers to return home

Wynyard resident Les Charlesworth also invoked the word “nightmare” when talking about his experience applying to return to Tasmania after having urgent surgery in Melbourne to treat liver cancer.

Mr Charlesworth said he would prefer to self isolate in his home when he comes back, but has accepted he will probably have to quarantine in a hotel.

He said he’s had five applications for a G2G Pass to return to Tasmania rejected so far, most recently because the expiry date on his driver’s licence was unclear.

“There should be some tolerance built into this because to me there is no compassion being shown to someone who’s trying to do the right thing, and getting hit the leg every time you turn around,” Mr Charlesworth said.

“Please, I implore the Premier [Peter Gutwein] and other leaders, show some compassion.”

The RACGP and AMA said they are satisfied it is safe for most people who have returned to Tasmania after surgery in Victoria to quarantine in hotels.

Doctor sitting at his desk
Royal Australian College of General Practitioners Tasmanian president Dr Tim Jackson says anyone with non-urgent elective surgery scheduled in Melbourne should contact their GP.(ABC News: Laura Beavis)

“Assuming they’re stable and everything post their treatment they’ve had over there, [hotel] quarantine is appropriate,” Dr Jackson said.

“We need to be careful that particularly coming from Victoria with the situation we’ve got here at the moment, the last thing we want is to bring the virus back into Tasmania.”

A spokesperson for the Tasmanian State Control Centre said it individually reviewed each application for an exemption from hotel quarantine on medical grounds.

“Several thousand applications have been processed through G2G since it became operational on July 16,” the spokesperson said.

“Like with any online system, some users find it more difficult to navigate than others.

“G2G is continually reviewed based on feedback and changing functional requirements.”

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Queensland’s Chief Health Officer defends isolation period for overseas arrivals as Government targets elective surgery waitlist

Queensland’s Chief Health Officer has defended the state’s coronavirus quarantine regime, despite two new cases in two days involving overseas arrivals who had already spent 14 days in isolation.

Jeannette Young said while there was “literally the occasional one case where someone has developed the infection on day 15”, quarantine rules needed to deal with “the vast majority rather than the one-off exception”.

Queensland recorded no new COVID-19 cases overnight, leaving the total number of infections to date at 1,065, with only one current case in hospital — a patient on a ventilator in intensive care.

Those latest cases were a 30-year-old man diagnosed on Saturday who had arrived from overseas and been quarantined in Perth before travelling to Caloundra, and a two-year-old boy diagnosed on Friday whose family had returned from Pakistan.

Dr Young said authorities had seen “more recently you can test positive later” but this was not an overwhelming argument to extend the quarantine period.

“That would mean we would be asking enormous numbers of people to continue in quarantine for longer and longer periods which I don’t think is helpful,” she said.

Separately, Dr Young said it was “important” health authorities now relied on the likes of cafes and restaurants to collect customer identification information because of the failure of the Federal Government’s COVID-Safe app to achieve mass support.

“Unfortunately not enough Australians downloaded the COVID-Safe app and the plan was that we would be able to use that to contact trace people,” she said.

“That did not occur. Less than a quarter of Australians have downloaded that app to date so we need to go back to the more traditional method of contact tracing people.”

Elective surgeries on waitlist to begin

Deputy Premier Steven Miles announced the State Government would spend $250 million to clear a blowout in elective surgery waiting lists caused by the suspension of “non-urgent” procedures in March.

He said the Government expected that by the end of June about 7,000 patients would have waited longer than clinically recommended for surgery, compared to about 100 people at the same time last year.

Mr Miles said the $250 million would deliver an extra 6,000 operations, “effectively clearing that long waiting list”, and an extra 25,0000 specialist appointments.

“In other parts of the world, they’re still unable to do elective surgery because their hospitals are full to the brim with COVID patients. We never got there. We’ve been incredibly fortunate,” he said.

Amid success in flattening the infection curve, the Government is under pressure from businesses to open state borders for the winter holiday season and help a beleaguered tourism and hospitality sector begin to recover.

Mr Miles said the state was on track for reopening borders on July 10 as flagged in its coronavirus “roadmap”, but he said that was under daily review.

“Business can be quite sure that we are very likely to go to stage three restrictions on the 10th of July,” he said.

Mr Miles said he was “less concerned” about the health risks of protest gatherings in Queensland than in Victoria, where one protester who attended a Black Lives Matter rally tested positive to COVID-19.

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SA lifts elective surgery restrictions

South Australia will be the first state in the country to resume elective surgery as hospitals deal with a ballooning backlog of patients requiring medical procedures which were put on hold amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The number of overdue elective surgeries tripled in SA as a result of COVID-19, but as of midnight on Wednesday, the restriction under the Emergency Management Declaration will be relaxed, which also applies to dentistry.

Health Minister Stephen Wade said the services’ required shut down was the reason for the overdue spike.

He said the temporary halt was introduced to limit the spread of the virus and protect patients and staff.

“We have a significant challenge to recover from the pandemic,” he said.

“We don’t want to delay it longer than we need to (and) the department is asking hospitals to focus on their longest waits within the three urgency categories.”

Elective surgery levels in public hospitals are predicted to normalise by mid-June, as long as they remain safe to do so.

Premier Steven Marshall said South Australians’ progress in so far containing the virus as well as the stockpile increase of PPE enabled the restoration.

There have been 48,000 surgical masks and one million face masks secured, with another 45 million to be produced locally.

“I assure everyone waiting for elective surgery that we will move as quickly as possible to reduce the backlog caused by the pandemic but it will take time,” Mr Marshall said.

“We are working with different hospitals and surgeons to schedule that elective surgery.”

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