Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley has announced that all elective surgeries in public and private hospitals could resume by the end of the month as the number of Covid-19 cases due to Omicron stabilizes .
From Monday February 21, public hospitals in metropolitan Melbourne will be able to carry out Category 2 surgeries, while the Minister will also consider further changes to allow all surgeries to resume from February 28, under reserve to support streaming sites, with an emphasis on treating Category One and Category Two patients within clinically recommended timeframes.
The seven-day rolling average of hospitalizations for Covid-19 is 457 patients, down from a peak of more than 1,200 patients in mid-January 2022.
The number of employees unavailable due to Covid-19 has fallen by around two-thirds, currently standing at around 1,400 people.
Mr Foley has endorsed a plan that balances the health system response and pressures on the workforce by ensuring Victorians can access the important surgery they have been waiting for.
“With hospitalizations steadily declining and staff availability improving, we are in a strong position to remove remaining restrictions and ensure delayed appointments can be rescheduled as quickly as possible,” Foley said.
“All of our healthcare staff have done an incredible job of getting us through the Omicron wave. Our approach must be careful and steady to ensure they are able to cope without being further affected by fatigue and time off. .
“We understand that this has been a difficult time for many people awaiting surgery and we thank them for their patience as we successfully peaked the Omicron variant.”
Each hospital will individually assess its own capacity based on staff availability and Covid-19 demands, with 44 hospitals still operating as Covid-19 streaming hospitals.
Private hospitals will also be able to increase their elective surgery activity as long as they can continue to support public hospitals.
From Monday February 21, private hospitals in metropolitan Melbourne can undertake up to 75% of all elective surgery activity, up from 50%.
Minister Foley will then consider increasing it on Monday, February 28 to 100%.
In regional Victoria, the cap for private hospitals will increase from the current 75% to 100% on Monday February 21, while regional public hospitals will continue to perform any elective surgery according to their individual capacity.