Personal protective equipment must be in abundant supply before restrictions on elective surgeries are eased, Australia’s top doctors have warned.
The Australian Medical Associated has put forward proposed steps to the federal government for the resumption of elective surgery.
State and federal leaders will discuss the hot-button issue at a national cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
To help hospitals deal with coronavirus cases, elective surgeries other than the most urgent procedures have been put on hold.
All category three and most category two surgeries were suspended from last month.
AMA president Tony Bartone says doctors should be authorised to make decisions about what surgeries can proceed.
“The AMA supports treatment proceeding as determined by doctors,” he said on Monday.
“It would be logical to restart procedures at low risk of spreading COVID-19 and of high benefit to the patient, and this would include IVF treatments.”
Dr Bartone says any procedures where there’s a risk of coronavirus being transmitted should be avoided.
He says category two procedures should gradually be restarted before category three surgeries are considered.
“Many elective surgeries are for health conditions that will only worsen over time,” Dr Bartone said.
“A gradual loosening of restrictions is also consistent with the government’s and the AMA’s view that patients should not ignore existing health concerns, and seek medical care when needed.”
The Australian Society of Anaesthetists says any lifting of measures must be done with caution so the hard work of social distancing isn’t undone.
It suggests patients should have to undergo 14 days of quarantine before a surgery.
A shipment of 58 million face masks was recently been received by the federal government.
The importance of face masks and other personal protective equipment has been highlighted in new clinical guidelines for physiotherapists who might treat patients with coronavirus.