Lo said any deferred urgent surgery was being rescheduled as soon as possible and was still being undertaken within the recommended 30-day timeframe.
“Often it might be a difference of a few days, but we are working very, very hard in the background,” Lo said. “It is challenging, but hospitals are managing this extremely well. The sickest patients will always get priority.”
Emergency surgery continues at every major hospital. But Lo said surgical teams remained “at the behest of what was coming through the front door of the hospitals.”
“If there are many people coming in and filling up beds with COVID, we’ve just got no capacity to look after the patient booked in for surgery and it leads to an elective surgery problem,” he said.
Australian Medical Association Victorian vice president, surgeon Jill Tomlinson said care was being rationed due to staffing shortages and rising coronavirus admissions.
“Across the state, operating may be impacted on the day in question because crucial staff members are unfortunately sick with respiratory illnesses or other illnesses,” she said, adding category-two and three procedures were being most severely affected.
Senior intensive care physician Dr Graeme Duke said he could not recall a time when so many intensive care staff had been furloughed.
“This is the worst that we’ve seen in a long time,” Duke said. “It’s a combination of stress, burnout from being overworked, as well as COVID infections, but it is really the other flu-type viruses that are around that are really knocking people off more than COVID now.”
Duke, who works at a large Melbourne hospital, said intensive care units across the state were also admitting rising numbers of people who had become critically ill after experiencing life-threatening complications or secondary infections following bouts of serious respiratory viruses, including coronavirus or influenza.
“This is why we’re focused on carrying out recruitment and providing further training and support to our existing workforce,” he said.
This content was originally published here.