ELECTIVE surgery, other than category one and urgent category two cases, will be suspended and some hospital patients will be moved to help prepare Canberra hospitals for the coronavirus pandemic, says Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith. 

Following endorsement by the national cabinet, Prime Minister Scott Morrison made the announcement today (March 25) saying that surgeries will stop from 11.59pm today (March 25) until further notice.

"In line with today’s announcement by the Prime Minister, the ACT government is reducing non-urgent elective surgery across the territory," Ms Stephen-Smith says.

"This will apply to public and private hospital systems.

"All patients on elective surgery waitlists are being clinically reviewed to ensure the most urgent surgeries are prioritised.

"Patients whose elective surgery has previously been confirmed and booked will be contacted individually and advised if their surgery is being delayed as a result of this decision. These patients will remain on the elective surgery waitlist.

"Alongside this measure, the ACT’s public health system will also be reducing non-urgent and non-essential outpatient and community activity.This will include community-based services, medical outpatients, procedures, and treatments.

"From Thursday, March 26, appointments that clinicians deem to be non-essential will be either cancelled or postponed. Essential appointments will be converted to virtual appointments where possible. This will include telephone or video consultations.

CHS is contacting patients whose appointments or treatments are affected, and no patient will lose their spot on the wait list as a result of these actions, Ms Stephen-Smith says.

In a bid to prepare Canberra hospitals and provide increased capacity in acute wards at Canberra Hospital and Calvary Public Hospital, 28 patients from Canberra Hospital and two patients from Calvary Hospital will also be transferred to University of Canberra Hospital, Ms Stephen-Smith says.

And, from Monday, March 30, the government has also announced that it will temporarily close the University of Canberra Hospital (UCH) hydrotherapy pool.

"CHS recognises hydrotherapy is an important therapeutic activity for many people with chronic illness to maintain their mobility, manage their pain and to foster overall wellbeing," Ms Stephen-Smith says.

"We encourage people to continue with a home-based rehabilitation program."

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