Queensland’s biggest hospitals have suspended non-urgent surgeries and other operations ahead of the peak of the state’s third Covid wave.
Another 17 people were reported to have died with the virus on Thursday and there were 697 people being treated in hospital, with 15 in intensive care.
There are at least 39,800 active Covid-19 cases in Queensland and hospitals have been given permission to postpone elective surgeries before the wave peaks in the coming weeks.
The Royal Brisbane and Women’s hospital, the Princess Alexandra hospital in south Brisbane and the Gold Coast university hospital have suspended all “non-urgent” activity.
Metro North Health said the halt also applied at Prince Charles, Redcliffe and Caboolture hospitals.
“Metro North Health has suspended all non-urgent activity to meet current Covid-19 and influenza case demand on its hospitals,” a spokesperson said Friday.
Gold Coast Health said its hospitals would only provide emergency surgery and trauma services, as well as urgent elective surgeries.
“Non-urgent surgery and some routine outpatient services are being cancelled,” a spokesperson said.
“We understand it can be disappointing and frustrating to have non-urgent elective surgery or outpatient appointments postponed.”
Brisbane surgeon Dr Chris Perry, a former president of Australian Medical Association Queensland, said hospitals would still be able to do urgent elective surgeries.
“Remember that elective operations aren’t useless operations, they’re operations which are necessary for the health of a person, but don’t need to be done tomorrow or next month,” Perry told ABC Radio.
Perry also urged people to get a booster after the government said only 63% of those eligible were up to date and less than 50% of eligible Queenslanders aged over 65 have had a fourth jab.
“I’ll be lining up this week or next week for a fourth shot … because this virus could still make me really quite unwell,” he said.
“Even if you’re relatively young, it can give you long Covid, it can make you just transmit it more, or get sicker.
“And the vaccines are really, really well tolerated, so the figures are out there. If you’re not getting vaccinated, you’re just playing Russian roulette with your own life.”
On Thursday Queensland’s health minister, Yvette D’Ath, flagged that some elective surgeries may be delayed due to the number of Covid cases and staff shortages.
“I have over 2,000 staff that are furloughed just because of Covid,” D’Ath said on Thursday.
Some hospitals were likely to suspend lower-category elective surgeries depending on where staffing pressures are affecting the most, she had said.
“There’s no decision to have any statewide suspension. We’re allowing the local hospitals to manage that based on their own demands and pressures,” D’Ath said.