Update on resumption of elective surgery in Australia
We had a productive meeting between RACS, our specialty societies and Dr Nick Coatsworth, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer to discuss the resumption of elective surgery. Dr Coatsworth held a media conference in which he thanked us for working together with government. He reiterated that we will be “moving together, slowly and cautiously over the next month, to look at the impact on our health system capacity, of reintroducing some level of elective surgery procedures. And we're going to be monitoring the impact of that.”Read the transcript of Dr Coatsworth’s briefing.
The responsibility for the implementation and monitoring of the resumption of elective surgery will be under the control of each State and Territory’s Chief Medical Officer, who will also deal with specific complaints in both public and private hospitals, under the government's national viability partnership agreement with private hospitals.
We expect that this will be done in consultation with each State and Territory’s RACS committee. RACS, together with our specialty societies and Dr Coatsworth, is in the process of developing a principle-based document to help guide the States and Territories in both public and private sectors. This will be released in the next few days.
You may have read in an article in Australian media yesterday that RACS and the Australian Society of Anaesthetists (ASA) are working on guidelines on deciding which patients were suitable for surgery. While the article alluded to RACS working with ASA, we want to clarify that each organisation’s work is separately conducted.
We are working in collaboration with the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists and we thank our specialty societies and Dr Coatsworth for their support and collegial collaboration.

New Zealand hospitals given national guidance on increasing planned care
The New Zealand Ministry of Health has issued advice and guidance to all District Health Boards (DHBs) about increasing planned care. Hospitals are being encouraged to deliver more planned care activity as practical according to local levels of COVID-19 impact and resources available.

RACS’ New Zealand National Board will meet next week to receive updates from members about what is happening in their regions and specialties so we can raise concerns and address issues effectively and efficiently with the Ministry of Health.

Surgery triage: responding to the COVID-19 pandemic
RACS has conducted an evidence based rapid review on the topic of ‘Surgery triage: responding to the COVID-19 pandemic’. The report provides recommended staging for opening some elective surgery services. Read the report (PDF 692.41KB).

Australian Orthopaedic Association’s (AOA) position on elective surgery
The AOA welcomes a staged and safe approach (PDF 59.49KB) to the return of orthopaedic surgery.

COVID-19 Guidelines for Endocrine Surgery
The Australian and New Zealand Endocrine Surgeons, General Surgeons Australia, and the New Zealand Association of General Surgeons have developed COVID-19 Guidelines for Endocrine Surgery.

Webinar on personal protective equipment recording now available
We thank our guest of honour, Dr Nick Coatsworth, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer and panellists, Dr Bridget Clancy and Professor Guy Maddern as well as our many participants who made time to participate in the webinar on Tuesday 21 April. We hope you found it informative.

The webinar was recorded and is now available on our website.

Update on bulk billing specialist items for telehealth
We have been advocating strongly to broaden the rules around telehealth services with regards to specialist surgeons. As of 20 April 2020, specialist and allied health service providers are no longer required to bulk bill telehealth items.

Providers are expected to obtain informed financial consent from patients prior to providing the service; providing details regarding their fees, including any out-of-pocket costs. Read about the latest changes. We will continue to advocate for other areas that we have previously identified.

Letter from the Governor-General of Australia
His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd) wrote a heartfelt letter to RACS (PDF 31.86KB) to thank all surgeons for their work in helping contain and treat COVID-19.

Andrew Connolly’s Anzac Address
An annual tradition in the Department of General Surgery at Middlemore Hospital in Auckland, Aotearoa / New Zealand, has been the Anzac Address, given by RACS Fellow and Middlemore’s Head of Department of General and Vascular Surgery, Andrew Connolly, on the Thursday immediately preceding Anzac Day. 

This tradition has been in place since 1999. A different theme is chosen each year; this year the theme revolves around COVID-19.

Instead of being presented in person this time, the talk has been uploaded to YouTube. Thank you, Andrew. 

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