Non-urgent elective surgeries have been postponed in the Hunter New England Health (HNEH) District.
HNEH released a statement this afternoon postponing the non-urgent elective surgeries in an effort to prepare their services for COVID-19 and allow for staff training.
"Most importantly, it will also protect our staff who are on the frontline and are crucial to the care of COVID-19 patients as cases rise," said Dr Paul Craven, Medical Controller for COVID-19.
"Postponing surgeries will be done in a staged way so we balance crucial staff preparedness with acting in the best interests of patients who are waiting for important surgery."
"The postponements will be based on clinical advice and an assessment of each person’s case."
"This is part of our Pandemic Plan and is an example of how we are ensuring our facilities are prepared for COVID-19."
"The District had already taken the proactive step to postpone elective surgery for those who had returned from overseas, and now it’s necessary to extend this to other non-urgent surgery."
HNEH said that patients will retain their place on the waitlist and be contacted to reschedule their surgery at a later date - emergency surgery will continue.
"We know some people will naturally be disappointed, but we ask the community for their understanding during this difficult time."
"In addition, we will also be reviewing our outpatient clinics right across the District, and will be using Telehealth services where possible to conduct these appointments remotely," said Dr Paul Craven.
"Urgent appointments will still continue and these patients will still receive care. Any non-urgent appointments that cannot be done remotely by Telehealth will be postponed to a later date."