Non-urgent surgeries are on hold in North East hospitals as the latest round of stage three restrictions come into place across regional Victoria.
In a move by the state health department to free up public hospitals for more coronavirus cases, from 11.59pm Wednesday all category three and non-urgent category two elective surgeries will be postponed.
Albury Wodonga Health and North East Health Wangaratta patients will be impacted, but it isn't clear how many patients would be affected.
Albury Wodonga Health chief operating officer Emma Poland said the cross-border health service will be winding back all non-urgent surgeries at their hospitals.
"Category one and urgent category two surgeries will continue to take place - so our community can be assured that if they need emergency care, they will still be looked after," she said.
Both health services only heard the news when Health Minister Jenny Mikakos announced the changes at the midday Wednesday media briefing.
North East Health Wangaratta partnerships and well-ageing director David Kidd told The Border Mail no pre-booked procedures would be cancelled.
"All pre-booked category three and non-urgent category two surgeries will go ahead," he said.
"Following this, only category one and urgent category two surgery will occur."
In a statement Ms Mikakos said where possible, existing surgery bookings should go ahead, but that is up to each hospital.
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The Victorian Health Department defines a category three surgery as a "non-urgent case" requiring treatment within 12 months for a condition causing minimal or no pain, dysfunction or disability that is very unlikely to deteriorate quickly.
"While we won't be taking any new bookings for the time being, regional Victorians can be assured that where possible, already booked elective surgery will proceed, as well as for those who need unexpected, urgent care," Ms Mikakos said.
"We know this will mean an anxious time for many Victorians whose surgery is delayed, but we'll resume our elective surgery blitz as soon as it's safe to do so, to catch up any backlog as quickly as possible."
Category one and urgent category two surgeries will continue to take place.
IVF activity will also be exempt from these restrictions.
"With coronavirus numbers continuing to grow at a slow, but steady rate in regional Victoria it is more likely that our hospitals will have to manage additional patients and we need to ensure they are equipped to do so," a health department statement said.
"Pausing all non-urgent elective surgery across the state will create additional capacity within the health system.
North East Health Wangaratta was approached for comment.