The Victorian Government has expanded its suspension on elective surgery to cover all non-urgent Category 2 cases so that nursing staff can be redeployed to assist with the “deeply concerning” COVID-19 outbreak in aged care facilities.
Premier Dan Andrews announced on Tuesday 28 July there are now more than 80 outbreaks and 764 active cases across private residential aged care facilities, with some providers struggling to maintain staffing levels and basic standards of care.
As part of the response, teams of public health experts and experienced nursing staff from Victorian hospitals are being sent to residential aged care facilities to ensure appropriate oversight and care.
Andrews said it is also no longer safe to keep some COVID-positive residents onsite. They will be moved to Melbourne hospitals, with more than 100 residents already transferred and at least another 50 to follow over coming days.
To facilitate an increase in patients, all non-urgent Category 2 elective surgery across public and private hospitals in metropolitan Melbourne will be paused. This will ensure enough hospital bed capacity, as well as equipment and staffing.
This latest announcement follows a 14 July decision to pause all Category 3 elective surgery in metropolitan Melbourne and reduce elective surgery lists across public and private hospitals, fuelling concerns over a backlog of patients requiring care for acute and chronic ophthalmic conditions.
“Wherever possible, surgeries that have already been booked will proceed – but for the time being, only new Category 1 and the most urgent Category 2 surgeries will be booked,” Andrews said.
According to the Victorian Government, there will be no changes to elective surgery in regional Victoria, but regional cases will continue to be monitored to ensure hospitals have the resources and capacity they need to manage any increase in presentations.
Victorian Health Minister Ms Jenny Mikakos said it was important to ensure there were enough beds and staff available if elderly needed to be transferred out of aged care settings.
“Our fantastic healthcare staff will make sure anyone who needs urgent surgery will still be seen throughout this time and we’ll resume our elective surgery blitz as soon as it’s safe to do so, to catch up on everyone else,” she said.