On Wednesday all of Victoria’s public hospitals were to wind back all non-urgent surgery as part of the preparations to cope with Covid-19 pandemic.

A statement from Jenny Mikakos, Victoria’s Minister for Health and for Ambulance Services, said that although hospital admissions for patients with the Covid-19 virus remained low the numbers were rising daily and that the state’s hospitals would face a serious test when peak demand caused by the pandemic was reached.

The statement said the state government was working with private and public hospitals to determine a: “system-wide response including how to preserve critical resource for when they will need them most – that means beds, staff and supplies – not just to look after coronavirus patients but to keep looking after all Victorians in need of emergency and urgent care.

“ As from Thursday, 26 March, category-three surgeries would not take place until further notice.

“Category-two surgeries will only happen if delays pose a serious risk to the health of the patient. … This is consistent with a decision by National Cabinet acting on the advice from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, that all elective surgery, other than urgent cases, will be suspended. This will apply to both public and private hospitals.

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“This will not affect emergency surgery, or category-one elective surgeries, including those booked in as part of our elective surgery blitz – which are included the most urgent including urgent heart, neurological and cancer procedures.”

The statement said that the as the pandemic progressed and when it was safe to do so,  the Department of Health and Human Services would plan for these services to recommence, including surge capacity to reduce waitlists.

Ms Mikakos said: “We are making these decisions in order to protect patients, health care workers and their families from this deadly virus.”

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“Everybody has a role to play in slowing the spread of coronavirus and to take the pressure off our health system. Our message is clear: if you can, you must stay at home.”

  • For the latest information on Covid-19 visit: www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus