From Monday, 7 February non-urgent elective surgery requiring an overnight stay will return to 75 per cent capacity in private hospitals, and up to 75 per cent of pre pandemic activity levels at public hospitals in regional and rural NSW where they are able to do so.
The temporary suspension of non-urgent elective surgery requiring an overnight stay in both public and private hospitals from 10 January was necessary to ensure there was sufficient staffing and hospital bed capacity in NSW to meet the extra demands caused by the Omicron wave of COVID-19.
All emergency surgery and urgent elective surgery in NSW continues to be performed during this challenging period. The majority of non-urgent elective day surgery has also been continuing in public and private hospitals.
Premier Dominic Perrottet said with COVID-19 hospitalisations stabilising, non-urgent elective surgery requiring an overnight stay can now begin to resume in a safe and staged manner from Monday, 7 February.
“I am pleased to announce that from next week non-urgent elective surgery will resume at private hospitals and in some of our public hospitals that are in a position to do so in regional and rural NSW,” Mr Perrottet said.
“The reintroduction of non-urgent elective surgery will be done in a phased manner to balance the ongoing potential need for extra capacity in our hospitals and the need for people in NSW to access their elective surgeries as quickly as possible.
“We recognise the effect these necessary restrictions have had on the lives of people requiring non-urgent elective surgery and I want to assure them we will be doing everything possible to return to full capacity in all of our hospitals as soon as possible.”
Health Minister Brad Hazzard said private hospitals will retain some capacity to assist public hospitals by taking patients if necessary and will also continue to take public patients for non-urgent elective surgery to ensure equity of access.
“I want to thank the private hospitals in NSW who have supported our public hospitals and the NSW community during this challenging period and will continue to do so after non-elective surgery resumes next week,” Mr Hazzard said.
“NSW has a strong healthcare system, both public and private, and an exceptional workforce who have continued to provide world class care for their patients throughout this pandemic.
“Our hospitals remain under pressure due to COVID-19 so only our public hospitals that are in a position to resume non-urgent elective surgeries without compromising their ability to care for COVID-19 patients and patients with other medical conditions will do so.”
Minister for Regional Health Bronnie Taylor said people in regional NSW will be pleased to see a resumption in non-urgent elective surgery as we return to a normal operating environment.
“It’s been a challenging time, but our doctors and nurses and support staff have worked tirelessly in our regional hospitals to support people in need of urgent care,” Mrs Taylor said.
“More of our workforce is returning and this will mean our public hospitals will be in a position to restore non-urgent services, and I thank the people of regional NSW for their patience.”
Acting Deputy Secretary of NSW Health Wayne Jones said it is expected that a number of regional and rural public hospitals will have the capacity to resume overnight non-urgent elective surgeries from Monday 7 February, while metropolitan public hospitals will remain focused on the demands associated with caring for COVID-19 patients, with the situation under constant review.
“Where necessary local health districts may also re-impose temporary restrictions at a hospital in the event of a local outbreak to ensure the community are kept safe and can access hospital care if required,” Mr Jones said.
Mr Jones said patients due to receive non-urgent elective surgery who have been impacted by the restrictions are encouraged to seek medical attention should they experience a change in their condition so they can be clinically reviewed and re-prioritised to a more urgent category if required.
In 2020-21 the NSW Government provided an extra $458.5 million to fast-track elective surgeries which were delayed as a result of the Federal Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic last year, and a further $80 million has been provided as part of the 2021-22 NSW Budget.
The NSW Government has committed more than $4 billion to the NSW health system to manage the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic since March 2020.