Victoria to resume COVID-delayed surgeries

By AAP Newswire

Elective surgery is set to be ramped up in Victoria as the state moves to clear a backlog of about 60,000 patients held up by the COVID-19 pandemic.

From Thursday, regional Victoria will jump to 75 per cent of usual activity as case numbers continue to fall.

Melbourne is scheduled to go to 75 per cent from September 28.

An additional 18,750 elective surgeries will be carried out across public and private hospitals in October and 10,500 in November.

Specialist outpatient consultations and non-urgent dental procedures will also gradually resume.

Premier Daniel Andrews is promising extra funding to resume an elective surgery "blitz", launched earlier in the pandemic, when it's safe to do so.

"There will be a lot of catch-ups to be done here but our health system ... public and private working together, are equal to that task," he told reporters on Wednesday.

All elective surgery across Victoria has been curtailed dramatically because of the state's second wave.

On July 28, all non-urgent category two elective surgery in Melbourne was put on hold.

The premier apologised to people who had been forced to wait for surgery, saying hospitals had needed to create capacity for infected aged care residents.

"We know this has been an anxious time for many Victorians whose surgery is delayed but we'll catch up on the backlog as quickly as possible and ensure those who need it most are prioritised," he said.

Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said the number of infected healthcare workers had significantly declined in recent weeks.

"They are overwhelmingly now concentrated, in terms of active cases, in private aged care facilities or staff who work in private aged care facilities," she said.

"I think the latest figure is about 70 per cent of those active cases are in private aged care."

All Victorian hospitals will return to full surgical capacity when the state moves to "COVID normal", removing all restrictions, from November 23.

Ms Mikakos said people's access to surgery would be based on clinical need and the priority classifications could be reviewed.

"For anyone who is concerned about their current condition or have any concerns that their condition may have deteriorated in recent weeks, it's important that they speak to their GP or their specialist doctor," she said.

"Their place in that waiting list, their classification ... is able then to be reviewed."

The Australian Dental Association welcomed the resumption of non-urgent dental procedures including routine examinations, preventive and restorative treatment, dentures and orthodontic care.

"Although we would have preferred these restrictions to be lifted earlier, we are pleased that our patients now have some certainty about when they can return to the dentist," Victorian branch president Angelo Pacella said.