Doctors call for more detailed public plan

By Gabriel Fowler
AMA NSW President Dr Danielle McMullen.

HEALTH professionals are calling on the State Government to be transparent with the public about the impact of delaying non-COVID care on patients and the health system.

The suspension of elective surgery and other non-COVID services is significantly impacting patients who need to access care, the Australian Medical Association's NSW President Danielle McMullen said on Tuesday.

That included patients waiting for semi-urgent Category 2 surgery, recommended within 90 days, as well as testing and screening.

"It is clear from the modelling released by the NSW government yesterday that the NSW health system will be operating in crisis mode well into November, if not beyond," Dr McMullen said.

The modelling reveals that Intensive Care Units will become overwhelmed, and go into 'code black' mode when demand for critical care exceed 900 patients in mid-October. But there was no detail on what that looks like if the state starts opening up with a vaccination rate of 70 per cent.

"Obviously at the moment, with high COVID numbers and for the next six to eight weeks it's going to be all hands on deck and that's appropriate," she said.

But the AMA was concerned that ICU demand in December will still be 'severe' when the state is opening up again.

"Patients who aren't able to go back to work or are in chronic pain because they need elective surgery will be left behind when we start to open up. There are very far-reaching consequences that must be considered.

"The Government has released its modelling for ICU demand and capacity, and it has a plan for phased reopening based on vaccination numbers, but where is the plan for non-COVID care."

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