More Australian states are taking steps to ensure that the available resources are dedicated to more important health needs and are not frittered away in pursuit of cosmetic face-lifts.
The South Australian government has banned circumcision and some cosmetic surgery in the state's public hospitals.
AdvertisementThe procedures being banned include tattoo removal, breast implantation, liposuction and reversals of sterilisation.
State Health Minister John Hill said today that the ban, which would come into effect this month, would ensure surgery was carried out only when there was a clear medical need.
South Australia joins four other states in no longer providing male circumcisions for non-medical reasons.
Hill said the bans would lessen the demand on hospital beds and extend clinical resources and theatre time.
He said parents who wanted to have their son circumcised could have the procedure done in a private hospitals.
"This is just another example of the activity we are going through to try to make the system work better," Hill said.
"But I guess there is an ethical issue too.
"Should our public hospitals be involved in doing procedures which are not medically based?"
He expects some families to be disappointed that they will have to go to a private hospital or clinic for their child's circumcision.
"I think some people will object very strongly and think it is their right to have a free procedure done in a public hospital for cultural reasons," he said.
"Of course there are others who strongly support this procedure being stopped."
The South Australian Health department's chief executive, Dr Tony Sherbon, says even though the bans may mean more travel for some people, many patients will benefit.
"Not every country town has a private hospital, but these are social procedures and if people need them they can access them in the private hospital network," he said.
"They are not priorities for the public health system, we have major priorities for the public health system. We have major priorities in urgent procedures that override these priorities."