Public and private patients from metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire will now undergo COVID-19 testing prior to elective surgery to help protect patients and staff from the risk of infection.
Minister for Health, Jenny Mikakos said that while elective surgery was continuing throughout the pandemic it was important to manage the higher risks associated with the increased number of cases throughout Victoria.
“We understand the anxiety patients can feel when waiting for surgery and we thank all Victorians for their patience during these challenging times,” said Ms Mikakos.
“Testing patients prior to their surgery is the best way to protect both patients and our dedicated healthcare workers from this highly infectious and deadly virus.
The Minister said screening patients for coronavirus before they get to hospital will provide them with the best chance at recovery, while also providing an added layer of protection for the doctors and nurses caring for them.
Under the new arrangements, public and private patients will be tested around a week before their scheduled surgery and will be asked to self-isolate until their surgery to reduce the risk of contracting coronavirus.
If a patient tests positive their surgery will be postponed until they have recovered, unless the surgery is urgent, the Health Minister said.
“Its important people continue to look after their health during the pandemic – no one should put off seeking medical care if they need it – our hospitals are safe and open to everyone.”
She said anyone needing emergency surgery will not be impacted by these changes.
“The current coronavirus screening protocols will remain in place for those patients,” Ms Mikakos said.
“No emergency patients will be compromised by having to wait for a test or result.”
She said the elective surgery testing program was based on the latest expert advice from Safer Care Victoria, and was supported by the Chief Health Officer.
Victoria’s public hospitals have been advised to remain at 75 per cent of normal elective surgery activity to ensure public hospitals have the capacity they need to provide lifesaving care if COVID-19 cases continue to rise.
For the latest information and advice on coronavirus visit dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus