It has been nearly two months since the Victorian State Government suspended most elective surgeries. In July, Premier Daniel Andrews said this was essential to freeing the healthcare workers needed to care for the elderly, and hospital beds for people with COVID-19.
At the time of the announcement, the country recorded nearly 400 cases in one day, and all elective surgeries were canceled except for urgent procedures. Now, 7 weeks later, the surgeons are in a position to restart their treatment with Victoria reporting only 42 cases.
Elective surgeries will resume in Regional Victoria from tomorrow. The goal for hospitals is to perform 85 percent of the elective surgeries that were pending before the pandemic spread as of September 28, up from the current rate of 50 percent. All hospitals will then aim to reach 100 percent of normal activity once the country moves to the final stage of the state’s roadmap to recovery, planned for November 23.
Metropolitan Melbourne hospitals will increase elective surgeries to 75 percent of normal activity from September 28 when the city reaches Phase 2 on its roadmap to recovery. Melbourne’s hospitals will then rise to 85 percent once the city reaches its third phase of recovery. All Melbourne hospitals will return to full capacity when the state reaches its final step in the roadmap, currently planned for November 23.
Mr. Andrews said this gradual resumption would allow the state to perform nearly 19,000 additional surgeries across hospitals in October, and an estimated 10,000 additional surgeries in November.
Mr. Andrews said Victoria is going to deal with the backlog of people waiting for surgery as soon as this is secure. I apologize once again to those who had to wait for surgery, he said.
He said there would be a “major attack” for elective surgery, which would be announced at a later time. There will be a lot of catching up here, but our health system, working together, is equal to the task, he said.
COVID-19 testing will continue in hospitals
Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said asymptomatic monitoring of health care staff will continue as Victoria steps up elective surgery. She said hospitals would also continue to screen patients before surgery. She said the country will also resume the phased return of other health services, such as dental visits and specialized medical appointments.
Dental and allied health services are set to be eased in Melbourne from September 28, when dentists can perform non-urgent checks and services.