08 February 2022

New elective surgery bookings paused allowing staff redeployment

Western Australian public hospitals will scale back some elective surgery bookings to help alleviate expected system pressures as the number of Omicron COVID-19 cases increase within the State.

This considered and planned decision has been made in advance to avoid having to make snap-decisions to cancel surgery on short notice – as experienced in other States.

Health Director General Dr David Russell-Weisz said that the decision to scale back elective surgery bookings had not been taken lightly and that he understood that this will be disruptive for some patients.

“We need to reduce the demand on the WA health system to allow the redeployment of staff to key areas and areas affected by staff absences,” Dr Russell-Weisz said.

“This decision will also ensure we can deliver additional bed capacity, as we continue to prepare for the unique issues presented by the COVID-19 Omicron variant.”

All public hospitals, including public-private partnership hospitals, will temporarily pause further bookings for multi-day non-urgent Category 2 and Category 3 elective surgeries for a two-month period from 28 February 2022. Bookings made prior to this time are expected to be performed. A weekly cap will be introduced for Category 2 procedures, with treating clinicians determining urgency of treatment.

All Category 1 bookings and surgery will continue as normal. Patients anticipating a booking in coming months are asked not to call their hospital or doctor, and instead wait to be advised by their treating hospital.

WA Health will closely monitor COVID-19 cases and should the rise be slower than expected, additional Category 2 surgeries will be booked.

A similar direction will be provided to the State’s largest privately-operated hospitals to support the WA Health surge plan.

“I sincerely thank everyone who is affected by the elective surgery booking pause for your patience and understanding,” Dr Russell-Weisz said.

“WA Health is committed to taking action to ensure those patients awaiting elective surgery will be treated as soon as possible.

“I also thank staff across the WA health system for your hard work and commitment to patient safety and care.”


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