Consider postponing elective surgery unless it is a medical emergency

The Board of Healthcare Funders (BHF) and its members in the healthcare funding space have requested members of medical schemes to proceed with caution in scheduling elective surgical procedures (for example, cataract surgeries, knee and hip replacements, ligament repairs or hernia repair).

There are two main reasons for their request to minimise non-emergency elective surgery at this time:

  • To minimise the risk of in-hospital patient exposure to Covid-19.
  • To avoid patients unnecessarily occupying hospital beds at a time when a surge in serious novel coronavirus cases is expected.

In addition, with the financial uncertainty that Covid-19 holds for the Society and its members, it makes good sense for all unnecessary expenditure to be reduced as far as possible. One way in which members can significantly contribute to the continued sustainability of the Society, and their own budgets, is to continue using their Society benefits with caution. This holds especially true for elective procedures, which make up a very large part of the Society’s claims payments each year.

If you have booked or are considering any elective surgery, we therefore urge you to engage with your healthcare practitioners to discuss deferring anything that is not a medical emergency.

Regardless of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is worthwhile thinking twice before going for any elective procedures, especially if there are non-surgical options available.

At the same time, don’t ignore life-threatening medical conditions

Across the world there are reports of more people dying of strokes, heart attacks and other serious medical conditions than usual. Although some of these patients test positive for Covid-19 (pointing to some potential link between the infection and the medical condition), many do not test positive. The reason for these deaths, it seems, is that fewer people are making medical appointments or visiting emergency rooms, because they are concerned about Covid-19 and practising social distancing as far as possible.

However, doctors warn that waiting too long to get help for life-threatening conditions may be more dangerous than contracting Covid-19.

If you’re experiencing a medical issue, call your doctor or the ER24 ‘Ask a Nurse’ line on 084 124. Your doctor or ER24 can then advise whether you should make an appointment, or seek urgent care at an emergency facility.