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Ban on vanity surgery

Instead, the 2000 patients awaiting nip'n'tuck cosmetic procedures will be forced to shop around private health facilities to have their operations.

 "Unless there is a legitimate medical reason, I don't see why NSW taxpayers should be funding these types of surgery," Health Minister John Hatzistergos said.

"Most cosmetic surgery should ideally be undertaken within specialist private health facilities.

 "By reducing clinically unnecessary procedures, doctors will be ensuring more surgery time for people with real health needs," Mr Hatzistergos said.

The new elective surgery policy will be announced today by Mr Hatzistergos in a dramatic move to streamline waiting lists and give priority to patients queueing for procedures such as hip and knee replacements, cataract removal and gallstone surgery.

 He said a range of cosmetic and discretionary procedures would not be performed by hard-pressed surgical teams unless there was a clear need to improve the physical health of a patient.

 The new policy was developed by the NSW surgical services task force chaired by surgeon Pat Cregan, who has been conducting an extensive review of the management of waiting lists and surgical services in public hospitals.

NSW becomes the second state after Western Australia to introduce this tough approach to cosmetic surgery procedures and prioritise public health operations.

"The community wants consistency, transparency and accountability in all aspects of health care, including the management of waiting lists," Mr Hatzistergos said.

 "Cosmetic surgery should ideally be undertaken in specialist private health facilities."

 He said there were some reconstructive cosmetic procedures that would still take place in public hospitals, to help people who have suffered disfigurement as a result of trauma or burns.

 These include:

* Total rhinoplasty - repairing major facial trauma including congenital abnormalities;

* Bilateral breast reduction - where irregular sized and oversized breasts cause severe disability; and

* Hair transplants - replacing hair loss due to severe burns.

Mr Hatzistergos will also announce that NSW Health will adopt the national standard of waiting list clinical priority, which introduces four categories for surgery.