The NSW Government funding to get elective surgery back on track would ordinarily be welcomed, but these are not normal times AMA (NSW) President , Dr Danielle McMullen, said.
“While there is a strong need to ensure patients are getting necessary elective surgery as well as doctors and other hospital staff back to work, there are complications that need to be worked through.
“Given the size of the backlog we are facing, it should be noted that this additional funding is not a complete solution.
“In the short-term, it will provide a boost but really only serves to highlight the cyclical pattern we see in elective surgery: waiting lists get long and the government of the day puts a patch on the system.
“Waiting lists in NSW were long before the pandemic and we need a better solution that breaks this cycle.
“Public hospitals are targeting returns to 75 per cent of capacity when it comes to elective surgery, due to the ongoing pandemic.
“This is to maintain both patient and staff safety, as well as individual hospitals’ COVID-19 preparedness, as we know there is still community transmission of COVID-19.
“The return to 75 per cent of activity will take time and it will not be evenly distributed at hospitals around the state.
“Additionally, public patients will be headed for private hospitals to provide additional facilities to complete more elective surgeries faster.
“This is a highly unusual, temporary measure and outside of these conditions, is something that would not be recommended, as the balance we have between the two sectors is something to protect.
“This also raises further complications for doctors who do this work, particularly in terms of insurance and contracts to ensure standard pay, conditions, and training for junior doctors.
“The visiting medical officers who will be performing this work have several things they need to consider carefully, on an individual basis, about public work in private hospitals.
“Doctors are working hard to return to elective surgery capacity but we are dealing with a number of extra spanners in the works due to the pandemic,” Dr McMullen said.
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