The decision to reduce elective surgery at private hospitals will allow staff to be redeployed to other aspects of the pandemic effort, including administering vaccinations.
Senior anesthetist at Norwest Private Hospital Michael Levitt said nurses in the private system had been asked to staff vaccination hubs, and “many have been seconded and so far the private system has coped with that”.
Professor Henry Woo, an urological surgeon at Wahroonga’s Sydney Adventist Hospital, said the announcement that all category 2 surgeries would be suspended “took everybody by surprise”.
“Whilst frustrating for all concerned, I did my bit to support this and cancelled numerous forthcoming operations for men with prostate cancer, which fall into the category 2 classification,” he said.
Professor Woo said the “backflip” meant these surgeries could likely now go ahead. “NSW Health should not underestimate the disruption that this has created,” he said.
Dr Levitt expressed concern about the decision to delay elective surgeries in the private network, which has been assisting with the public backlog caused by the initial pause on surgery last year. There were about 88,000 patients on the waiting list for elective surgery at the end of March.
“The damage we will see to people’s health if important surgeries are delayed will be immense. There will be an increase in cancer diagnoses, long-term illnesses and cardiac investigations,” Dr Levitt said.
“Elective surgery was already down before surgery was cancelled because a lot of patients are already self-cancelling or self-postponing because of a reluctance to attend hospitals.”
Data from NSW Health’s Agency for Clinical Innovation published on Thursday showed 1210 healthcare workers were completing a 14-day isolation period, up from 1116 one week earlier.
A patient at Cumberland Hospital, a 260-bed mental health facility, was transferred to Westmead Hospital after testing positive to COVID-19.
“Our public health unit is currently investigating the exposure and conducting interviews,” a Western Sydney Local Health District spokesperson said. “No further transmission has been associated with this case to date.”
It comes after an exposure at the mental health unit at Nepean Hospital earlier this month resulted in 21 patients infected.
Meanwhile 11 patients are in isolation in the acute stroke unit at Prince of Wales Hospital, in Sydney’s east, after a staff member who attended the ward tested positive.
The staff member, who is not vaccinated, attended the unit last Friday. The patients and the unit’s staff have returned negative results so far and the ward is closed to new admissions.
Stacey Laing, whose father was admitted to the unit on Friday, said a letter was given to the patients to notify them of the case on Wednesday.
“No one has informed the families,” she said.
“The families can’t access the ward, and we don’t know what’s happening. Meanwhile, my dad does not quite understand what’s happened.”
Ms Laing said when she contacted the ward on Friday morning the nurse on duty described the situation as a “shambles”.
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