The federal government has moved to halt all non-urgent elective surgery from 11:59 1 April* in both public and private hospitals as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to test the resources of the healthcare system.
Only Category One and some Category Two elective surgeries will proceed, with the remainder of Category Two and all Category Three surgeries cancelled until further notice, according to a press release from the Prime Minister’s office.
Elective surgery categories are assigned to patients as per the judgement of their treating practitioner.
Category One surgeries refer to patients needing treatment within 30 days whose conditions may become an emergency situation if not treated, while Category Two patients are those who are assessed needing treatment within 90 days.
Patients in the second category face conditions which cause them pain, dysfunction or disability, but are unlikely to deteriorate quickly and unlikely to become an emergency, the release stated.
Category Three patients, meanwhile, the release states, will need treatment within the next year. Their conditions, while causing pain, dysfunction and disability, are unlikely to deteriorate quickly.
The Prime Minister’s office made the announcement after the National Cabinet – which includes the leaders of each state and territory – sought to ensure protective equipment was maintained to deal with increasing number of coronavirus cases.
It is just one action the government has taken to ensure the appropriate number of medical supplies are available, with more than 300 million masks on order and 30 million of those masks set to arrive in the next fortnight.
Additionally, one million surgical gowns have been ordered, with the media release stating that the government had also engaged local manufacturers to ramp up the production of medical equipment.
At the time of publication, the nation looks set to record its 2,400th COVID-19 case by the end of the day, with South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory still to report their figures and the overall number of cases currently sitting in the high 2,300’s.
*Correction- Originally the government indicated the restriction would come into play 25 March but has recently announced the will now come into effect 11:59 I April.