Thinking | 18 September 2020

Elective surgery, dentistry and allied health update: Victoria

By Karl Rozenbergs and Sinead Quigley

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews this week announced an update on elective surgery, dentistry and allied health services, as part of metropolitan Melbourne’s timeline for achieving a ‘COVID Normal’. The healthcare and social assistance sector appeared largely ignored until now.

Elective surgery

All Category 3 and non-urgent Category 2 elective surgery in regional Victoria will resume at 75% of its usual activity from 17 September 2020. From 28 September 2020, elective surgery activity in regional Victoria will resume at 85% of its usual activity.

Metropolitan Melbourne can operate at 75% of its usual activity from 28 September 2020 when it enters the Second Step of the Roadmap and to 85% of its usual activity when it enters the Third Step.

All Victorian hospitals will move to 100% of usual activity when the State moves to the Last Step to COVID Normal, planned for 23 November. For more information on the roadmap to reopening please see our article here.

Specialist clinic consultations will increase in line with elective surgery activity. Where possible, clinics will continue to use telehealth instead of meeting face to face.

The Premier said Victoria will undergo a ‘substantial blitz’ for elective surgeries to deal with the backlog of people awaiting surgery, but only ‘when it is safe to do so’.

Dentistry and allied health services

From 17 September 2020, dental services will be able to resume non-urgent procedures including routine examinations. From that date, allied health professionals will be able to see patients for a broader range of treatments other than for the purposes of ‘the requirement for hospital admission, specialist review, or an increase in care needs’. These relaxations will also apply to Metropolitan Melbourne from 28 September 2020.

Although it has been announced that during the Third Step, most dental and allied health services will be able to recommence with a COVIDSafe plan, the Premier explained that there will still be some limitations still in place on group therapy for Allied Health. These limitations, however, have not been specified.

Takeaways

There has finally been some clarity for healthcare professionals and Victorians awaiting category 2 or 3 surgery as to when elective surgery can recommence.

And while there has been some headway made for dental and allied health services, there is still a lack of specific guidance on what the different restriction levels mean for the wider healthcare services industry.

We will continue to monitor the healthcare restriction announcements and changes in Victoria and keep the sector updated.

If you would like to discuss how the Melbourne COVID restrictions are impacting your healthcare or social assistance business, please contact a member of our Health & Community team.

Contact

Karl Rozenbergs

Karl advises his clients in adverse action claims at the Fair Work Commission, implementing and negotiating enterprise agreements, unfair...

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