In metropolitan Melbourne, elective surgeries will resume at 75 per cent capacity from September 28, and 85% from October 26 in line with step two of the roadmap, Premier Daniel Andrews has announced.
In regional Victoria, 75 per cent of elective surgeries resumed from September 17 and this will increase up to 85 per cent from September 28.
A return to full capacity across the state is slated for November 23 .
Dental and allied health services in Melbourne will also be able to see more patients from the end of the month.
“We know this has been an anxious time for many Victorians whose surgery is delayed, but we’ll catch up on the backlog as quickly as possible and ensure those who need it most are prioritised,” Mr Andrews said.
And the backlog the pandemic has led to is significant.
The number of patients waiting for elective surgeries in Victoria increased almost 14% from December 2019 to June 2020.
During the pandemic there has also been a significant reduction in outpatient appointments, with the number of new specialist appointments in public hospitals in Victoria dropping by more than 15% between April-June 2019 and April-June 2020. That’s equivalent to more than 2,000 fewer appointments each week in 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. This means that patients referred to public hospitals haven’t received the specialist assessments necessary to determine whether they need a procedure .
NSW hospitals suspended all non-urgent elective surgery on March 25 as a result of the coronavirus .
These non-urgent operations resumed incrementally on April 27 and since July 1, NSW hospitals have been performing surgery at normal capacity .
Just like in Victoria, the backlog for elective surgery is significant. The waiting list for elective surgery in NSW has blown out to more than 100,000 patients amid the coronavirus pandemic.
With regards, to wait times, the number of patients waiting longer than the clinically recommended time for their operation was 10,563, though most were in the semi-urgent or non-urgent categories .
More than 99 per cent of urgent surgery was done on time .
NSW Waiting lists June Quarter 202006
Taken from ABC news, article “Coronavirus sees NSW elective surgery waiting list blow out to more than 100,000 patients”.
According to a Sydney Morning Herald news article, “most likely to be overdue were myringoplasty/tympanoplasty (closing a hole in the eardrum, 58 per cent overdue), septoplasty (straightening the bone and cartilage in between the nostrils, 54.5 per cent), tonsillectomy (removing the tonsils, 50 per cent), cataract extraction (42.3 per cent) and total knee replacement (40.4 per cent) .
NSW Health has committed $388 million to fast-track elective surgery, which includes sending patients to private hospitals for treatment .
NSW Health Deputy Secretary Susan Pearce said it will take six to nine months before elective surgery waiting lists are back to pre-pandemic levels, but elective surgery programs had been running at 100 per cent activity since July 1, and some hospitals were at 115 per cent activity to clear the backlog .
Ms Pearce also said the state’s elective surgery services were under instructions to fast track any patients on the waiting list who showed signs they were deteriorating by moving them to a more-urgent category .
The first phase of Queensland reintroduction of elective surgeries began on April 27, 2020.
Queensland Health Services state they “are prioritising clinically urgent and long-wait cases” and that “patients will be contacted about a new appointment or procedure date via phone or mail” .
In Queensland up to $250 million of additional funding was allocated to allow HHSs to increase non-urgent elective surgery capacity and ease the rising patient waitlist numbers and include ramping-up specialist appointments. The additional funds will provide extra theatre lists at night and on weekends and also buy theatre time in the private sector, News Corp reports.
Prior to this funding, Queensland had more than 52,200 patients on elective surgery lists on June 1 and more than 7000 of these individuals had waited longer than medically recommended for their procedures.
Mr Miles told reporters the funding would allow Queensland Health to deliver 6000 additional operations, effectively clearing that long wait list and assist with 25,000 specialist appointments .
As of August 13, according to Mr. Steven Miles, “elective surgery long waits were expected to peak at 7,000, our elective surgery blitz saw them drop to just 2,774 by the end of June.”
Elective surgery activity returned to pre-COVID-19 levels in WA on June 15, 2020 after less than three months of non-urgent elective surgery suspension due to COVID-19 .
Non-urgent Category 2 and all Category 3 procedures were suspended from March 23, 2020 and slowly resumed from April 28, 2020 .
Premier Mark McGowan said 3,000 category two and three surgeries had been deferred in WA because of coronavirus restrictions.
WA Health Minister Roger Cook said people who had their surgery postponed would be contacted and advised on a new date “as soon as practical and possible” .
He urged the patients and their families not to contact their hospital in the meantime.
“Priority will be given on the basis of clinical need,” he said .