Following successful advocacy efforts by the College, as well as other healthcare and patient groups, Health Minister Mark Butler confirmed insurers will be required to fund these critical supplies, protecting patients from out-of-pocket costs at a time when the cost of living is soaring. 

Previously, a policy change under the former government threatened to remove mandatory coverage for essential surgical items like sutures, staples, and sealants from 1 July 2024. This could have resulted in either higher gap fees for patients or increased financial strain on private hospitals. 

RACS voiced strong concerns about the potential impacts, highlighting the burden it would add to patients already facing rising private health insurance premiums. The announcement by Minister Butler ensures continued financial protection for patients seeking surgical care. 

“This decision is a significant win for Australians,” said Professor Mark Ashton, who is a member of the RACS Health Policy and Advocacy Committee. 

“It safeguards patients from additional financial stress when accessing essential surgical care.” 

RACS has been actively involved in consultations with the government regarding reforms to the Prostheses List, now known as the Prescribed List. Over the past two years, the College consistently emphasised the importance of maintaining access and choice for commonly used surgical supplies. 

“Our focus has been on ensuring these reforms don't restrict access to essential items,” continued Professor Ashton. 

“We particularly cautioned against a ‘bundling’ model that could limit patient choice.” 

The government's decision to retain General Use items on the Prescribed List is a crucial step in ensuring patients continue to receive necessary surgeries without financial barriers. RACS remains dedicated to patient well-being and the highest quality of surgical care. The College will continue to work with policymakers to guarantee access to quality healthcare for all Australians.