Improving access to planned surgery for patients

Close up of surgeons attending to a patient.
  10 November 2023  West Metro Health Service Partnership   

GPs across Melbourne’s western metropolitan region are being encouraged to discuss new theatre sharing and day surgery arrangements with patients who may require surgery in coming months.

Patients will be able to access more timely planned surgery following collaborative reform initiatives being delivered by health services in the West Metro Health Service Partnership (WMHSP).

The WMHSP includes some of Victoria’s premier health services and organisations, including the Royal Melbourne Hospital, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, the Royal Women’s Hospital, Western Health, Mercy Health, the Royal Children’s Hospital and North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network (NWMPHN).

These health services are working together to expand same day surgery opportunities and optimise the use of available theatre space across the system. This will enable some surgeries to be conducted as same day procedures. It will also allow some surgeries to be performed at a partnering hospital to the one to which the patient was referred. If appropriate, the surgical team will remain the same.

Both approaches will enable eligible patients to receive the care they need faster, and in some cases without the need for a pre- or post-operative stay in a ward.

How does this affect general practice?

The collaboration being delivered across the WMHSP does not change GP protocols when referring patients for specialist assessment. Everything proceeds as usual.

The assigned surgical team will assess whether the patient is eligible for either of the new approaches and discuss the matter with them.

We encourage GPs to mention these new approaches when raising the subject of a referral that may lead to surgery. It may be reassuring to patients to know that in some cases wait-list times may be reduced, and the prospect of a hospital stay avoided.

Clinicians should also refer to the surgical pages on HealthPathways Melbourne and the statewide referral criteria for specialist clinics for more information.


Safer Care Victoria (SCV) recently published 2 resources that may support GPs and their patients to prepare for day surgery:

  • The day surgery patient brochure is a new resource for health care teams and patients, as well as family, friends and carers. It guides patients on how to prepare for and what to expect from day surgery procedures. It is available in 6 languages and is designed to make the experience as easy as possible.
  • SCV’s perioperative learning health network recent webinar titled ‘Expanding day surgery: lessons learnt’ webinar is available to watch on Vimeo. While not specific to the western metropolitan region, it will inform GPs on the type of surgery that is being promoted as day surgery across the state and appropriate patient selection. More webinars are available on the SCV website.