27 Apr 2020
RESTARTING NON-URGENT ELECTIVE SURGERY
Following the success of the webinar with Queensland Health and Queensland’s private hospital providers on April 8, and to continue our advocacy for members affected by the COVID-19 crisis, AMA Queensland hosted a second online forum on Thursday night.
More than 135 members dialled in to the webinar to hear the latest developments and ask questions about the reinstatement of some non-urgent elective surgeries, an outcome reached through of extensive negotiations between AMA and the Government.
Queensland Health’s Acting DDG and Chief Clinical Information Officer Dr Keith McNeil and Deputy Director-General Nick Steele provided a brief overview of how the reinstatement of elective surgeries would occur in Queensland and updated participants on the continuing progress of signed agreements between private hospitals and the State Government.
Representatives from the Mater, Ramsay Health, St Vincent’s, Healthscope and Cura Day Hospitals advised how elective surgeries would restart at their hospitals. In addition, representatives from Medical Defence Organisations including MDA National, Avant, MIGA, MIPS and Berkshire Hathaway provided clarity on the issue of indemnity.
Members asked questions of all panellists in real time with the key issues centring on the process for restarting elective surgeries, clarification of the Federal Government’s 25 per cent threshold and the access and availability of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE).
Once again, AMA Queensland collated all unanswered questions and emailed them to Queensland Health for response. Responses will be posted on our dedicated COVID-19 webpage.
RESTARTING NON-URGENT ELECTIVE SURGERIES
- 25% OF ACTIVITY | The reintroduction of 25 per cent of currently idle capacity will start from April 27. This is defined as the reopening of one in every four currently closed operating sessions for low risk, high value procedures.
- APPROACH | AMA has been advocating for a fair balance between public and private patients when it comes to restarting elective surgeries. Although Queensland Health has agreed that all patients will be selected on the basis of clinical decision making, it will be seeking to reduce waiting lists in some parts of the state. Hospital and Health Services (HHS) manage the waiting lists and Queensland Health is seeking HHS and private hospitals within their own regions to negotiate on the mix of public /private patients.
- ALLOCATION | Private hospitals have confirmed they intend to allocate the 25 per cent of idle capacity to clinicians who have regular theatre lists with their facilities. Access will be provided to doctors on an equitable basis.
- PPE | Private hospitals have responsibility for PPE for clinicians in their facilities. As such, the availability of PPE will determine the number and type of elective surgeries that are able to be reinstated with each facility needing to also continue to be able to respond to COVID-19.
- SCREENING | Because of extremely low rates of community transmission and the necessity to use PPE, elective surgery patients would be screened rather than tested for COVID-19. Pending Commonwealth Government and Royal College of Surgeons (RACS) guidelines are highly anticipated to clarify what PPE is required for each procedure, PPE remains an area of concern for private doctors and private hospitals.
- MDOs have confirmed they will cover for all public hospital patients where they are not otherwise indemnified.
- MDOs recommend all surgeons contact their MDO to clarify indemnity coverage.
- Queensland Health has confirmed that where private hospitals do not cover doctors and where doctors are unable to obtain insurance on reasonable terms, the State would provide cover for medical malpractice and professional indemnity risk. In return, Queensland Health will charge private hospitals a premium for the risk.
- Private hospitals will be required to maintain their current insurance arrangements, including WorkCover for their normal activity. State insurances will not cover private patients being treated by private VMOs in private facilities.
COVID-19 PRIVATE HOSPITAL ARRANGEMENTS FOR NON-GP SPECIALISTS
- Agreements are currently being finalised between Queensland Health and private hospital providers in response to the COVID-19 crisis, and Queensland Health has confirmed that the larger providers have signed their agreements to date. The smaller private operators will follow suit.
- AMA Queensland has developed a set of principles for contracted work undertaken by non-GP Private Specialists under the COVID19 public-private partnership. Read the AMA Queensland principles HERE. All parties agreed that the reinstatement of non-urgent elective surgeries needed to be managed in an orderly and gradual process with fortnightly reviews of COVID case numbers and PPE supplies.
AMA Queensland will continue to work with you to enable you to continue delivering high quality care to your patients, as we look to emerge from the effects of COVID-19.
Please contact us for any issues in you practice or hospitals on (07) 3872 2222 or email@example.com
Published: 27 Apr 2020