The Australian federal cabinet and state health ministers met (via tele-conferencing) on Tuesday, 21 April and one of the topics up for discussion was the revision of the elective surgery restrictions that have been in place since March. The question on our lips was whether it would be allowed for elective surgery to resume.
To the relief of hundreds of thousands of Australians, it has now been confirmed some elective surgery procedures would begin to resume across both the public and private hospital sectors from Monday, 27 April.
This announcement came on the back of some optimistic numbers for Australia regarding Covid-19. It is widely interpreted (touch wood) that our lockdown measures appear to be working. Through effective and timely measures and public cooperation, compared to many other developed countries, Australia is in a relatively good position.
Scott Morrison hailed the decision as “another step on the way back” to normal life in Australia. For patients and those working in the health and allied industries, it is good news – getting back to work, and getting back to serving the needs of their patients.
The gradual restart of elective surgeries, however, will vary from state to state, depending on the capacity constraints and conditions, such as hot spots that may emerge, such as the one currently being contained in North-West Tasmania, and a recently discovered one in Cairns. But overall, it is expected that we could see a resumption of about 25% of all elective surgery.
From what we understand, these resumed surgeries from 27 April should include:
• All Category 2
• SELECT Category 3 procedures
• Screening programs for cancer and other diseases
• Post-cancer reconstruction procedures
• Joint replacements
• Eye procedures
• Any patients aged under 18.
According to Amber Moncrieff from Hunter Plastic Surgery, In the select Category 3 list, “The main one for plastic surgery clinics is post-cancer breast reconstruction.” You can read the latest update on the Hunter Plastic Surgery website here.
The National Health Minister has recommended that you don’t call hospitals and overwhelm the system. If your surgery has been delayed, the practice or hospital will contact you directly. However, if you have a relationship with your surgeon via private practice, you may want to contact the practice staff to see if the lessening of restrictions applies to your planned surgery.
There will be a further announcement on 11 May about allowing more elective surgery.
Also, stay tuned for a podcast I did today with Dr Matthew Peters from Valley Plastic Surgery, who is on the committee of the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons, who have been working to determine the best guidelines for their members and the public moving forward.
We are heading in the right direction 🙂