The Project host Lisa Wilkinson has slammed Australian politicians for freezing elective surgeries, leaving thousands of people across the country living in pain.

As Omicron outbreaks surge on the east coast, NSW, Queensland and Victoria have all paused category three elective surgeries to relieve their state’s strained healthcare systems. 

The halt has sparked a huge backlog, with nearly 57,000 Australians now facing year-long wait times for life-changing operations, including neurological procedures, gall bladder removal, knee and hip replacements, and hernia, ear, nose, and throat surgeries. 

On Sunday night, the segment spoke to two Australian women who are suffering from health issues and desperate for medical intervention – fearing they cannot survive the wait.

The Project host Lisa Wilkinson (pictured) has slammed the postponement of elective surgeries in several states which has left tens of thousands of Australians living in pain

The Project host Lisa Wilkinson (pictured) has slammed the postponement of elective surgeries in several states which has left tens of thousands of Australians living in pain

The Project host Lisa Wilkinson (pictured) has slammed the postponement of elective surgeries in several states which has left tens of thousands of Australians living in pain 

Helen Theo has a brain aneurysm that has doubled in size, but her surgery to have it removed, scheduled for earlier this month, was abruptly cancelled the day before.

‘I’m worried that it might be another year before they actually call me up to get it done,’ Ms Theo said.   

‘And I’m worried about, you know, am I going to make it another year?

‘Is it going to rupture? Am I going to die? Am I going to be paralysed? 

‘It feels like they’re playing with my life.’

Ms Theo said she is ‘frustrated, angry, and scared’ as she lives in uncertainty. 

‘What, do I need to cry on national TV to get my point across? It’s black and white. This is brain surgery,’ she said. 

Helen Theo (pictured) is waiting for a brain aneurysm to be removed. She said: 'It feels like they are playing with my life'

Helen Theo (pictured) is waiting for a brain aneurysm to be removed. She said: 'It feels like they are playing with my life'

Helen Theo (pictured) is waiting for a brain aneurysm to be removed. She said: ‘It feels like they are playing with my life’

The program also heard from Imogen Kars who suffers from debilitating carpal tunnel syndrome, which causes pain, numbness and tingling in the hands and arms.

She fears she may lose use of her hands – and ultimately, her employment.

‘I’m a journalist, so my life and my role is my hands and without those I’d lose my job. I also am starting to really struggle with just basic living,’ she said. 

‘It even hurts to wipe after the toilet. It hurts to wash my hair or to feed my cats.’

The 26-year-old said the lengthy wait was becoming ‘disastrous’.

‘It’s awful. It’s not just headlines,’ she said.

‘It’s our real lives and it’s not just a story. It’s my life.’

While some patients helplessly wait, Dr Sally Langley from the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons said specialist private surgeons who can’t be reassigned to work with Covid sufferers are sitting at home. 

‘Private hospitals, day surgery and smaller hospitals are idle with surgeons and staff at home waiting to restart work and available at any time to recommence elective surgery,’ Dr Langley said. 

Imogen Kars (pictured) is suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome, which causes pain, numbness and tingling in the hands and arms

Imogen Kars (pictured) is suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome, which causes pain, numbness and tingling in the hands and arms

Imogen Kars (pictured) is suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome, which causes pain, numbness and tingling in the hands and arms 

Wilkinson called for governments to use ‘common sense’ and work together to fully-optimised the health system. 

‘It sounds like the hospital system and the various state governments making the decisions aren’t talking to each other in an effective way that means that these people who are desperate for surgery, that their surgery isn’t going ahead for that very reason,’ she said.

‘How can doctors be sitting at the home doing nothing?’

Co-host Hamish Macdonald agreed, saying state leaders are underutilising their health workforce. 

‘Obviously everyone in the health system is doing everything with best intent and there’s tonnes of people in the system who are being repurposed to deal with covid, but that’s not every case,’ he said.

 ‘And there are clearly theatres in hospitals that are not being used for this sort of stuff. Doctors, nurses, that are not being used for this stuff, that possibly could be.’

Elective surgeries in NSW and QLD, which were suspended in early January to free up space for Covid patients in hospitals, will resume from mid-February and March 1, respectively. 

There are almost 57,000 people across the country who will have to wait more than a year to receive life-changing surgery

There are almost 57,000 people across the country who will have to wait more than a year to receive life-changing surgery

There are almost 57,000 people across the country who will have to wait more than a year to receive life-changing surgery 

Victoria, which announced the measure on January 5, said the temporary ban would remain in place for three months. 

The state had initially included IVF procedures in the ban, however, they were recently reinstated after public outcry. 

Until the postponements are lifted across the three states, the number of patients waiting to go under the knife – which has tripled to almost 57,000 since the ban – is expected to continue to rise. 

NSW Premier Dominic Perrotet and his Victorian counterpart Dan Andrews have both pledged to clear the backlog as soon as possible.

‘As soon as we… get advice from our medical teams that we can bring that non-urgent elective surgery back we will do so,’ Mr Perrotet said on Tuesday. 

‘It’s a key focus of ours… that we would get that back on track as quickly as possible.’

Mr Andrews said on Thursday: ‘As soon as I’m able to get those services back up and running again, absolutely we will, and we’ll try to do as much as we can as fast as we can to catch up.’ 

Source: Daily Mail

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