Surgery and Interventional Services Program update 

COVID-19 has had a significant impact on our surgical services and waiting lists during 2020. During this disruptive global pandemic, our Surgical Program and its people have supported us to maintain and preserve service availability during a time of heavy demand for hospital-wide resources to manage our pandemic response, coupled with restrictions on elective and other surgeries. 

The Surgical Program is developing and implementing a new ‘COVID-normal’ operating rhythm as part of looking beyond 2020. This Surgical Reform Program is one of Monash Health’s key organisational priorities as we recover from the effects of the pandemic, such as limited access to surgical services and increased waiting lists, and implement opportunities to optimise our service into the future. 

Program Director, Surgery and Interventional Services, Dr Alan Saunder said, “With the support of a talented workforce, I can’t think of a more exciting time to have the privilege of being involved in such a dynamic Surgical Program.” 

Our Surgical Reform Program centres on the end-to-end surgical patient journey, and relies on optimising the capability of our surgical teams and maximising surgical resources. At its core, the program is about giving our patients a great surgical experience and for our surgical teams to work at the top of their capabilities and realise a high sense of satisfaction at work 

The Surgical Reform Program portfolio currently consists of four focus areas underpinned by multiple change initiatives, bringing opportunities to improve our systems and processes.  

The key focus areas are: 

  1. Governance 
  1. Patient Pathway 
  1. Culture, Capability and Engagement 
  1. Strategic and Service Planning 

November 2020 is a significant milestone in terms of the Surgical Reform Program and positioning us in 2020 and beyond. Our ‘Perfect on the Day’ initiative was launched on 9 November at Dandenong Hospital, the first site in a rolling go-live across six sites. Associate Professor Paul Cashin, Service Director General Surgery said, “The purpose of the program is to reduce delayed list starts, unplanned or unknown changes to lists and on the day cancellations. It will also breed much greater cooperation and teamwork in the conduct of the list. 

Audits and feedback from the surgical teams will help us continually improve our processes, enabling successful implementation of key changes which include:

  • setting expectations that surgery commences for our index patients by 8:30am, 
  • supporting our teams to speak up for safety through the introduction of pre and post-session huddles, and 
  • ensuring our sessions run to time by implementing a mid-session huddle at which potential delays are identified, and strategies to support on-time finish are implemented.

The inaugural Surgical Program Fortnightly Forums will be launched as part of the Culture, Capability and Engagement focus area to support communication flow within the program. The first session will introduce Cath Cronin, our interim General Manager Surgery and Interventional Services, and focus on launching our leadership’s vision for the future in the Surgical Program.  

These sessions will complement the virtual Surgical Suggestion Box, which will be formally launched at the inaugural forum.

Our long term strategic and service planning kicked off with Urology, led by Deputy Director, Mr Matthew Harper, being the first unit to commence the ten-year planning process. 

“Given our previous experiences and further learning during the pandemic, it’s timely for the Surgical Program to commence these initiatives. We can now look forward to implementing a service to meet the needs of our community and employees in our new normal,” said Cath.  

Endorsed by Cath Cronin – Interim General Manager Surgery and Interventional Services 

Approved by Martin Keogh – Chief Operating Officer

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