The McGowan Government will invest $36 million towards an elective surgery blitz following the impacts of the pandemic.
The significant boost will enable approximately 5,800 more elective procedures to be conducted by the end of this year than was projected prior to COVID-19.
Western Australian health service providers will use a number of strategies to clear the elective surgery waitlists – extending the hours of operation in theatres to accommodate the extra patients on twilight and potentially weekend surgery lists, increasing hours of work available to existing staff, and using additional staff if required.
Care will be prioritised to those who have waited longer than clinically desirable for their care.
Specialties with the highest volume of over boundary cases are gastroenterology, ear nose and throat, urology, ophthalmology, general surgery, orthopaedic surgery, and plastic surgery.
Non-urgent Category 2 and all Category 3 procedures were suspended from March 23, 2020 to ensure beds were available for patients with COVID-19 and sufficient stocks of personal protective equipment (PPE) were maintained.
Activity ramped back up from April 28, 2020 and health service providers were able to return to at least 100 per cent of their historical average on June 15, 2020, less than three months from when it was suspended due to the pandemic.
Since then, the Western Australian health system has exceeded the June 2019 weekly admission volumes, primarily driven by the more urgent Category 1 and 2 cases.
In recent weeks, approximately 240 additional Category 1 procedures have been performed per week, while approximately 130 additional Category 2 procedures have been performed per week compared to the same period in 2019.
Category 1 elective surgeries have been maintained throughout the COVID-19 pandemic with a one per cent reduction in over boundary cases between February and June.
PPE procurement remains a priority and stocks continue to be strengthened across all critical PPE items.
The Western Australian Department of Health continues to have a dedicated team involved in global sourcing and procurement of PPE and remains focused on ensuring that our use of PPE for elective surgery in no way compromises our capacity to respond to a potential surge in COVID-19 cases in future.
As stated by Premier Mark McGowan:
“This elective surgery blitz is another major step towards WA’s recovery journey.
“Our focus has been to protect the health and wellbeing of Western Australians and this has been critical to all decisions relating to our response to COVID-19.
“The significant success of WA’s whole-of-community response to COVID-19 is what has enabled our health system to return to normal sooner than expected, and this blitz will deliver excellent clinical outcomes for patients as well as support our State’s recovery.
“The $36 million boost will have major flow-on effects supporting jobs across the State through increased hours for existing health staff, benefitting metropolitan and regional areas.”
As stated by Health Minister Roger Cook:
“This commitment will be welcome news for the thousands of people awaiting elective surgeries, particularly those who are over-boundary, and I thank them for their extraordinary patience.
“How each health service provider delivers the additional activity will be determined at the local level and is anticipated to include twilight sessions and possibly weekend procedures.
“Supplies of personal protective equipment continue to improve in order to support this activity and we will continue to monitor this and the progress against elective surgery targets, and adjust the approach if required.”
Health Minister’s office – 6552 6500