- For many Victorians, planned surgery (also known as elective surgery) can make a significant difference to a person’s quality of life.
- Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our health system, as well as Victoria’s growing and ageing population, many people are waiting for surgery.
- Through our planned surgery recovery and reform program, we are making long-term, sustainable changes so that more Victorians can get the safe, high-quality care they need, when they need it.
About the program
Our Planned Surgery Recovery and Reform program is creating long-term, sustainable changes to planned surgery (also known as elective surgery). This aims to provide Victorians with better and more timely health outcomes.
The Planned Surgery Recovery and Reform program is:
- Increasing the number of public surgeries delivered
- We are investing in new public hospital infrastructure. This includes the establishment of the Frankston and Blackburn public surgical centres. These are hospitals dedicated to planned surgery. We are also expanding and enhancing existing hospital capacity through hospital improvements, which is known as the Rapid Access Hub program.
- We are working with private hospitals to treat more patients on the public waitlist.
- Boosting surgical resources
- We are helping hospitals to improve their surgical equipment and diagnostic machines, including via the . This ensures they have the latest technology supporting them to treat more patients faster.
- We are training and developing current staff, and recruiting new staff, to help strengthen and build our surgical workforce.
- Empowering patients through better information sharing and choices
- We are funding dedicated hospital staff, known as Patient Support Units, to check in with people on surgical waitlists more regularly. This aims to improve communication between hospitals and patients.
- We are making it easier for patients to access safe and appropriate non-surgical treatment options, such as physiotherapy. This gives Victorians more choice about how they manage their health.
Clinical expertise and advice
We have appointed a Chief Surgical Adviser to work with a Surgery Recovery Taskforce and provide the Victorian Government with clinical expertise and advice. They will support the delivery of the Planned Surgery Recovery and Reform program, and drive long-term improvements and system changes.
Chief Surgical Adviser
Professor Ben Thomson was appointed as Victoria’s Chief Surgical Adviser in April 2022.
Ben is a general surgeon that specialises in disorders of the liver, pancreas, gallbladder and bile duct. He is the Director of Surgery at the Royal Melbourne Hospital and works as a trauma and general surgeon and cancer surgeon at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre. As part of his cancer work, he travels to see patients in rural Victoria (Wangaratta and Albury Wodonga).
Ben trained in Victoria and in Edinburgh, Scotland, and has worked for more than 25 years in Victorian public hospitals. He is also a clinical professor at the University of Melbourne and a board member of the Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand Hepatic, Pancreatic and Biliary Association.
“As Chief Surgical Adviser, I'm working closely with health services, the department and the Surgical Recovery and Reform taskforce to address deferred care as quickly and safely as possible, while creating sustainable, long-term change to improve practice and efficiency across the sector."
"As we are developing and implementing these reforms, patient experience and health outcomes is at the centre of all we do.”
– Professor Ben Thomson
Surgery Recovery and Reform Taskforce
The Surgery Recovery and Reform Taskforce was established in June 2022 to advise on implementing the program, including identifying further reform opportunities, driving improvements, and providing sector advice.
The Chief Surgical Adviser co-chairs the taskforce with the department's Deputy Secretary of Commissioning and System Improvement.
Taskforce members represent the healthcare and surgical workforces, consumers, peak bodies and government.
This diverse group offers valuable perspectives and insights on sustainable system recovery in Victoria. Their contributions to the program will help shape and drive implementation of our planned surgery reforms, ensuring they are practical and transformative.
Information for patients
As part of the Planned Surgery Recovery and Reform program, a number of new initiatives are being introduced.
Information for the health sector
The health sector is integral to helping us shape the future of planned surgery.
The Planned Surgery Recovery and Reform program presents multiple opportunities for health services to drive innovation, form beneficial partnerships, and create meaningful change for planned surgery patients.
For individual clinicians, there is also significant opportunity for knowledge sharing and professional development, including:
- updates via our monthly Planned Surgery Recovery and Reform Sector Bulletin
- access to information and resources via our Planned Surgery Recovery and Reform SharePoint site
- participation in our Health Service Partnership Delivery and Innovation Teams Community of Practice
- webinars on best practice and new and emerging developments in planned surgery
- invitations to events where you can share your thoughts and ideas.
Reviewed 25 October 2023