Elective Surgery in Australia May Be Back on the Table

By Victoria Kelly-Clark
Victoria Kelly-Clark
Victoria Kelly-Clark
Victoria Kelly-Clark is an Australian based reporter who focuses on national politics and the geopolitical environment in the Asia-pacific region, the Middle East and Central Asia.
April 20, 2020Updated: May 1, 2020

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has released its requirements for the re-introduction of elective surgeries which were stopped in March amid the spread of the CCP virus.

On April 20, AMA president Dr. Tony Bartone said the key to restarting surgery was that hospitals have an adequate supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) for all medical and hospital staff.

“This is a necessary precursor before any surgeries are undertaken,” he said.

“Doctors should be authorized to make decisions about what surgeries can proceed in the best interests of patients and clinicians,” said Bartone.

Suggesting that the government adopt a phased timetable approach to restart elective surgery, he also said that any operation involving a high risk of  COVID-19 transmission be avoided.

“It is important for patients that we re-activate access to private hospital care that is deemed safe,” he said.

“The AMA supports treatment proceeding as determined by doctors. It would be logical to restart procedures at low risk of spreading COVID-19 and of high benefit to the patient, and this would include IVF treatments,” said Bartone.

Both the federal government and the AMA agree that patients should not ignore existing health concerns, and seek medical care when needed.

The federal government canceled elective surgery on March 25 a day after the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) notified them of a shortage in the national medical supply of PPE.

This shortage has now been addressed. On April 19, Federal health minister Greg Hunt announced at a press conference that the government had received 60 million masks and that they had been able to secure an additional 100 million masks between now and the end of May.

According to Hunt, the government was able to obtain 6 million more masks than anticipated and two weeks earlier than expected.

The health minister also said that 22 million masks had already been distributed to hospitals around Australia with a further 11.5 million to be delivered to all medical professionals around the country.

Breaking this down further, Hunt said that 7 million masks were going to hospitals, 2.8 million to primary health care, 1.5 million to general medical practitioners, 1 million to pharmacists and allied health workers, 160,000 to respiratory clinics, and 75,000 to Indigenous Australian healthcare workers.

The minister said Australia has 184 people in hospital with coronavirus, 51 are in intensive care, and 33 on ventilators. There have been 6,619 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia as of April 20.