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At last! A co-ordinated and comprehensive surgical/day procedure plan

At last! A co-ordinated and comprehensive surgical/day procedure plan

The Andrews Government’s new $1.5 billion plan, which includes utilising designated rapid access hubs to do more elective surgery and day procedures, is good news for Victorians and must signal the end of the unhelpful politicisation of the “waiting list”.

ANMF understands the plan includes a clinically-led, system-wide, co-ordinated and dedicated Surgery Recovery Taskforce.

Importantly it is a way forward to ensure that Victorian’s can access their much-needed treatment and diagnostic procedures in a timeframe recommended by their treating doctors.

A critical focus of the plan is additional financial support to assist nurses to undertake postgraduate education in perioperative and anaesthetic and recovery, along with extra nurse educator positions to support these nurses whilst they are learning these skills.

More surgical and surgical liaison nurses will also be funded to help prioritise patients waiting for surgery according to need as well as provide post-operative/procedure care.

Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (Victorian Branch) Lisa Fitzpatrick said: ‘’This plan, once implemented, will yield more sophisticated and accurate data collection, provide unprecedented co-ordination by having designated elective surgery hubs and includes workforce expansion and specialisation that is already underway.

‘The government has almost 100 nurses ready to start 400 fully-funded postgraduate study places. These positions are in addition to other nursing positions announced by the government today.

‘This shows this is a considered plan that understands the logistics and the workforce development that will get these deferred surgeries/day procedures done sooner and future work done in a more timely way,’ Ms Fitzpatrick said.

‘Any who spout blame today are simply proving they don’t understand the health system or the workforce, including what our members have been through and are still experiencing as we move into the third year of the pandemic.

‘We had to pause category two and three surgeries and day procedures for significant periods of time while the health system carried the burden of thousands of COVID patients, including caring for those at home, with fewer staff as thousands were furloughed due to having the virus or being a close contact,’ she said.

There is no accurate centralised elective surgery/procedure waiting list. There are lists at every hospital with people potentially on multiple lists. You cannot find out how many patients need surgery/procedures just by adding all the lists together.

‘The outdated and meaningless “waiting list” concept was created more than 30 years ago,’ Ms Fitzpatrick said

‘Since that time health services have become legal entities in their own right and Victoria has lost the capacity to address the needs of patients requiring surgery and day procedures in a meaningful and co-ordinated way across the state. We’ve been tinkering around the edges until now,’ Ms Fitzpatrick said

The plan includes the transformation of Healthscope’s Frankston Private Hospital into a public surgery centre that will focus on category three elective surgery.

ANMF welcomes the Andrews Government’s further expansion of the public health system and will meet with members tomorrow to discuss the positive benefits of moving to the public sector pay rates and entitlements, including salary packaging, and nurse patient ratios.

‘It’s wrong that the Andrews Government has to go it alone and fund this significant reform as we see record low contributions from the Morrison Government to state health systems,’ Ms Fitzpatrick said.

‘But the ANMF looks forwards to working with the Andrews Government and Department of Health representatives over the coming months to assist in making this ground-breaking plan a reality.’

Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (Victorian Branch) has more than 95,000 members – nurses, midwives and aged care personal care workers – across the Victorian health, mental health and aged care sectors.

Media: Robyn Asbury – M: 0417 523 252