RYAN PARK MP
NSW SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH
Ensuring elective surgery continues during possible future COVID outbreaks must be a priority, given close to 100,000 people are waiting in pain and discomfort for surgery that has been cancelled, in some cases multiple times.
Speaking at the McKell Institute forum, Shadow Minister for Health Ryan Park said that governments at all levels and all political persuasions must commit to doing everything possible to ensure important surgery doesn’t again go on hold if and when another outbreak was to occur.
Mr Park said it was vital that formal discussions now begin with private hospital providers on establishing a long term partnership between the Commonwealth Government, NSW Health and private and faith based hospitals, to ensure elective surgery – which is in reality, essential surgery – doesn’t get stopped should our health system face similar challenges to the last few years.
Mr Park said one of the first tasks once a new Federal Health Minister is announced is for the State and Commonwealth governments to sit down and work through the challenges our health system faced and how both levels of government can better work together.
Mr Park said this could include, but not limited to, ensuring adequate personal protection equipment, is in place to meet demands, keeping private hospitals open and available to do an increased number of elective surgeries on public patients, and examining ways to boost the supply of healthcare workers to ensure our health and hospital system can continue to function effectively, especially for those needing surgery.
“It wouldn’t be right to blame governments for suspending elective surgery given the challenges they faced. But we must commit to putting in place measures to ensure that doesn’t happen again,” Mr Park said.
“When we are talking about elective surgery, what we are referring to is procedures such as endoscopies and colonoscopies, cataracts and other eye procedures as well as hip, knee, shoulder and back operations, all of which have a big impact on the ability for people to continue to work and participate in society,” he said.
“We have an opportunity to do better. But it means open and honest dialogue with the Commonwealth and state governments as well as the private hospital sector, to ensure a long term partnership is established, and we are utilising the full capacity of the health system when the next pandemic hits,” he said.
“The community expects, after going through a difficult few years that leaders at all levels would be sitting down and working together on a plan that ensures our hospital system can cope and important surgery continues.”