The Australian Society of Ophthalmologists urges practitioners to lead the way towards ensuring that Australian hospitals do not become overrun during the COVID-19 crisis by following the Moorfield’s triage chart to determine patient care. The ASO also welcomes the initiative of Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt and the Federal Cabinet to enable private-public hospital partnerships and thus provide a vital safety-net for patient care should the COVID-19 crisis escalate.
“Patient care is always our top priority,” said ASO President Dr Peter Sumich. “The Moorfield’s chart provides a useful ethical framework to prioritize eye conditions within the new COVID-19 environment and we urge our colleagues to adopt this system.”
The ASO commended the Federal Government’s recognition of the invaluable role the private health care system plays across Australia via instigating the private-public hospital partnerships system. This will boost the overall capacity of Australia’s health care system which could be of vital importance if public hospitals are in danger of being overloaded.
“Never before in Australia’s history has there been a more crucial time for significant consolidation between public and private health system resources. We are going to need as many beds as possible during this crisis and these measures will help deliver that outcome and ensure a more cohesive and integrated approach to care,” Dr Sumich said.
The private-public hospital partnerships will allow for both direct COVID-19 care as well as contracted arrangements for delayed elective waiting lists. The waiting list priorities will be determined by the public hospital surgical list managers to ensure that the most urgent patients receive the earliest care and financial imperatives don’t override community care and safety considerations.
The ASO acknowledged the suffering of non-urgent patients who were patiently waiting to receive sight-enhancing surgery at this time and thanked them for their sacrifices.
The ASO also thanked all those working on the front-line of the COVID-19 crisis, including fellow health care workers, emergency services and charity and essential services staff.
The ASO urged all Australians to continue to contribute to our fight against this global pandemic by regularly washing their hands, maintaining social distancing and staying at home as much as possible, particularly over the Easter school holiday period. “We are truly all in this together,” Dr Sumich said, “And linking the substantive government, health care and general public efforts together to address the challenges of COVID-19 can make a real difference.”
The ASO has put together a COVID-19 Toolkit to further assist members, which is available now on their website: www.asoeye.org
Moorfields Eye Hospital is the oldest and largest centre for ophthalmic treatment, teaching and research in Europe.
The Moorfields chart can be found here.
Dr Peter Sumich is available for interview.
For further information, please contact Sally Symonds, Manager, Media & Communications ASO – 0417 727 625