Public patients to have elective surgery in private hospitals to cut backlog created by coronavirus

An operating theatre at Hurstville Private Hospital. Picture: supplied
An operating theatre at Hurstville Private Hospital. Picture: supplied

The state government will pay for public patients to have elective surgery in private hospitals to cut the backlog created by the coronavirus pandemic.

Public hospitals will also increase surgery capacity.

NSW Health will host a conference involving representatives of the public and private health sectors and clinicians to work out the details.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard announced on Tuesday the state government would provide an extra $388 million "to ramp up elective surgeries, focusing on patients whose surgery has been delayed by COVID-19 to ensure they are booked in as soon as possible".

"The decision of National Cabinet in late March to pause some non-urgent surgeries across the country allowed us to prepare both public and private hospitals, our ICU capacity and our supplies of PPE (personal protection equipment) for COVID-19," he said.

"We are working as fast as we can to fast track those patients whose surgery has been disrupted."

Mr Hazzard said NSW Health would host a roundtable with public and private health sectors and clinicians within the next month to determine the best way to quickly and appropriately deliver elective surgeries and other procedures.

"NSW public hospitals normally deliver around 100,000 emergency surgeries as well as 235,000 elective surgeries a year," he said.

"Surgical capacity across the public and private sector is on track to be 75 per cent by the end of June.

"All NSW Health Local Health Districts are balancing the return of elective surgery with the need to maintain hospital capacity and preparedness for COVID-19.

"Surgery lists are being closely monitored, and any patient whose condition changes or deteriorates should speak to their treating clinician."

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