Non-urgent elective surgery will be cancelled at public hospitals in Sydney from Monday, August 2, in response to the worsening COVID-19 pandemic.
NSW Health announced the move late Friday, which comes as fears mount about the impact of rising COVID-19 cases on the NSW hospital system, and in particular, intensive care units (ICU).
There are currently 187 COVID-19 cases admitted to hospital, with 58 people in intensive care, 24 of whom require ventilation.
The move will affect elective surgery lists at St George and Sutherland hospitals.
NSW Health said postponing non-urgent surgery would support the state's healthcare workers "as they manage the demands of the COVID-19 response, providing increased capacity to support health services for the people of Greater Sydney".
NSW Health said there was currently "sufficient ICU capacity for all patients who require intensive care, with more than 500 beds available throughout the system".
"As part of its comprehensive planning for its pandemic response, NSW Health has the capacity to quadruple its current ICU capacity if required," NSW Health said.
"There would also be ventilators available for each of these ICU beds.
"NSW Health has a very integrated health system and local health districts and hospitals work together on a daily basis to ensure the optimal delivery of healthcare services.
"All local health districts have workforce surge plans ready to respond to the pandemic, in the event that cases of community transmission are identified locally."
It is the second time elective surgery lists have been cancelled since the pandemic began. The measure was previously implemented in March 2020 following a decision by National Cabinet, and will ensure the resources and capacity required for the COVID-19 response are maintained during the current outbreak.
NSW Health said emergency surgery and urgent elective surgery would continue unaffected.
"Those waiting for non-urgent elective surgery impacted by the changes will be contacted and encouraged to reach out to their referring doctor should their condition in any way deteriorate, so they can be reviewed and re-prioritised to a more urgent category if required," NSW Health said.