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Following the Prime Minister’s announcement last Wednesday 25th March regarding the cancellation of unscheduled non-urgent elective procedures in all hospitals, we would like to clarify the surgeries affected by this announcement and explain the reasoning behind this decision.

We understand the anxiety this is likely to be causing and would like to reiterate that obstetric procedures, including elective caesarean sections are not affected by this announcement and will continue as planned. Fertility procedures such as egg collection and embryo transfer that are currently booked and arranged with your doctor are also not affected and will continue as planned.

The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), which advises the Federal Government, is concerned that the national supply of critical personal protective equipment (PPE) will be depleted unless resources are prioritised.

Furthermore, we need to reduce person-to-person transmission through distancing and isolation. The AHPPC has recommended cancellation of all non-urgent elective procedures in both the public and private sector: only Category 1 and some exceptional Category 2 surgeries will proceed.

Procedures not affected in women’s health services include: deliveries, treatment for miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies, and cancers. Even in these cases, specialists will consider the appropriateness of non-surgical options first. This approach has been endorsed by the Fertility Society of Australia, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) and the Australasian Gynaecological Endoscopy Society (AGES).

Eve Health acknowledges the needs of individuals seeking assistance to conceive or preserve their fertility, but also acknowledges that the overarching responsibility currently is to all patients as part of the Australian and New Zealand healthcare system. We therefore recommend that, in the interest of public safety, patients who are planning to start fertility treatment consult with their treating specialist and discuss the appropriateness of postponing their treatment. This does not affect individuals currently in treatment. We recognise that there may be medical circumstances where delaying treatment may not be advisable and treating specialists should advise their patients if there are medical grounds to commence treatment now.

In terms of gynaecological procedures, each doctor should have reviewed and categorised their patients’ scheduled surgeries. After Wednesday 1 April, only Category 1 and urgent Category 2 surgeries will go ahead and may still need to be rescheduled. If you have a booked procedure, and have not yet heard from your doctor, rest assured that your doctors secretary will be contacting you individually over the next few days. Until this clarity is forthcoming, please continue to prepare for your elective surgery to proceed as planned.

We appreciate your patience and understanding at this time. Stay safe, wash your hands and together we will get through this.

Sincerely,

Associate Professor Anusch Yazdani and Doctor Tal Jacobson.