The health ministry on Thursday decided the cancellation of all scheduled non-urgent surgeries, and also commandeered bed capacity in private healthcare facilities – measures taken in anticipation of a potential surge in Covid-19 hospitalisations and amid concerns over the new Coronavirus variant of concern known as Omicron.
The decree takes effect as of Sunday. In a statement, the health ministry said patients scheduled for non-urgent surgery would be notified of the new date by the healthcare facility where they would have undergone the operation.
Non-urgent surgeries resumed on September 8 after being postponed in mid-July to clear more beds for Covid patients after daily cases rose to over 1,000, threatening to overrun the healthcare system.
The ministry also ordered all private hospitals – whether part of the national healthcare system (Gesy) or not – to accept patients from A&E departments of state hospitals or patients being treated in state hospitals.
Private hospitals must maintain a bed occupancy limit of 70 per cent, and 60 per cent for their ICUs.
Exempt from these restrictions are day-care clinics, outpatient traffic at clinics, and cases of day-care treatment carried out in clinics and private hospitals – provided that the designated 70 per cent occupancy cap is not exceeded.
Under the decree, for cases where patients on their own initiative seek surgery with a private hospital that is not enrolled with Gesy, the health ministry will not compensate the hospital.