Back to business
- On January 8, 2021
- January / February 2021
Back to business
Many of us are probably still a little fatigued from the previous 12 months, but it feels so good to turn the corner into 2021.
Firstly, I want to welcome the Interns of 2021. Your enthusiasm and energy will be very welcome – particularly in hospitals that are feeling a little worse for wear from the previous 12 months. Congratulations on completing your final year in such trying times.
We have been exceptionally lucky in NSW (and I figuratively knock on wood here – given that I am writing this a few weeks before it lands in mailboxes and anything can happen…), but the stress and anxiety of the past 12 months has taken its toll on everyone.
Many of our members have not taken leave over the holidays – or taken a shorter amount of leave – in order to facilitate elective surgeries for patients who were bumped earlier in the year.
We can now see that elective surgery figures are ticking up again. The Bureau of Health Information figures, released in December for the third quarter of 2020, revealed that the number of elective surgical procedures performed in NSW during July to September was 64,668 – up 4.2% compared with the same quarter the previous year.
More elective surgical procedures were performed in that quarter than in any quarter over the past five years – and double the number performed in April to June.
Despite this acceleration in activity, more people were on the waiting list for surgery at the end of the quarter compared with the same time last year – and those patients were more likely to have waited longer.
The number of people on the waiting list on 30 September was 95,052 - up 11.8% compared to the same quarter last year. Of those people, 8193 had waited longer than the clinically recommended time for their surgery – up from 844 in 2019.
From 1 July, there has been a return to 100% activity, with some LHD’s operating up to 115% activity.
It will take many more months to clear this backlog and we recognise the pressure this has on members. Please remember to look after your own mental health and wellbeing at this time.
There will be a similar significant increase in activity for general practitioners, as many prepare for the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine.
We are working with NSW Health to ensure that roll-out is as well-planned as possible. We anticipate that distribution will be challenging, and we will keep you informed along the way.
Initial vaccine roll out is likely to be in small numbers to a very specific group of people. This may be managed in specialised vaccine centres. As broader population vaccination rolls out, we are advocating strongly for these to be delivered through general practice – the existing distribution network has proved its safety, efficacy and efficiency delivering the national immunisation program and should be the centrepiece of a COVID vaccination.
I hope you all had a restful holiday season. We’re ready at the AMA to get back out and meet as many of you as possible and continue to work on the issues that matter most to you. Please be in touch with us anytime.