Clinical need not insurance status will determine elective surgery return

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Private Healthcare Australia has challenged Victorian health minister Jenny Mikakos over the suggestion the state will prioritise public patients over the privately insured as it prepares to restart elective surgery.

The National Cabinet agreed to allow Category 2 and Category 3 surgeries to resume from Monday.

"Public patients have gotten priority in terms of access to private hospital beds," said Ms Mikakos.

"Now I think that's a pretty good outcome for Victorian taxpayers, where Victorian taxpayers' money is being used to keep the private hospital system viable into the future."

However, in a statement, Private Healthcare Australia said patients will be prioritised on the basis of clinical need and not insurance status.

“I have spoken with Government at the highest levels and our interpretation of the current arrangements is that elective surgery is currently being scheduled on the basis of clinical need and people who need elective surgery should speak with their treating medical specialist," said the association's chief executive, Dr Rachel David.

“This is a clinical decision for medical specialist doctors, and the hospitals in which they work. Urgent procedures for patients, whether they be private or public are being scheduled at the moment and Australians will be treated fairly and on the basis of clinical urgency.

“This is determined by the treating doctor and the hospital. There is no mechanism to ‘push private patients to the bottom of a waiting list’, as suggested in some media reports.”