WA elective surgeries to be cleared under $36 million blitz

WA will invest in blitzing its elective surgery backlog, with a $36 million boost to clear extra procedures as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The funding will enable 5,800 more elective surgery procedures in a bid to return the waitlist to pre-COVID levels in 2021.

Under the plan, WA health service providers will clear the elective surgery waitlist by extending the hours of operation in theatres, increasing hours of work available to existing staff and using additional staff if required.

Care will be prioritised to patients who have waited longer than clinically desirable.

It comes following a suspension of non-urgent Category 2 and Category 3 procedures were suspended from March 23, to ensure beds for COVID-19 patients and enable an adequate supply of personal protective equipment.

Activity increased from April 28 and the State Government said health service providers were able to return to at least 100 per cent of their historical average on June 15.

Premier Mark McGowan said the surgery effort was “another major step” forward.

“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,” Mr McGowan said.

“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.”

Health Minister Roger Cook said it was time the surgery backlog was cleared.

“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.”

However, he said surgeries still depended on personal protective equipment supplies.

“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,” Mr Cook said.

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