The pre-emptive cut to elective surgery bookings before there are any significant COVID hospitalisations shows the system is already at capacity, according to Shadow Health Minister Libby Mettam.

“While the Government implies this is in preparation for a spike in COVID cases, there can be little doubt that it is also because the system is already at capacity despite two years to prepare for the expected increase in COVID cases,” Ms Mettam said.

“The impact of delaying elective surgeries should also not be played down. These patients are often in pain, with their lives and livelihoods affected while they wait for what can be life-changing surgery.

“Just because it is elective, does not mean it isn’t essential and what this means is that patients are paying the price for the Government’s inability to plan for the past two years.”

Ms Mettam said the impact of the delays on the medical acuity of cases was also a concern.

“We know that delaying surgeries can mean that those waiting may have to present to emergency in the interim if their conditions deteriorate and that has a flow-on impact to our already stretched hospital systems.

“There are already 29,475 patients on the elective surgery waitlist, which has blown out by 50% since the McGowan Government was elected.

“We have already seen multiple cancellations in the last couple of years due to a lack of theatre staff with many of those cases pushed back months.

“These future cases simply don’t cease to exist because they aren’t booked in and what it will mean is a dangerous game of catch-up for months ahead.”

Ms Mettam said the Premier’s comments this was precautionary and not based on any specific modelling shows the government really has no idea how our hospitals will cope, despite claiming they are ready and capable.

“It’s extraordinary that these measures, which should be a last resort, are being brought in pre-emptively because our hospital system is not ready and patients are paying the price for a government that has sat on its hand for the past two years.

“The people of WA deserve better from a government that claims to be keeping them safe.”