SUNDAY HERALD-SUN, Melbourne, Victoria, Sunday, August 12, 2007.

Snip 'not worth cost'

Suellen Hinde and Kelvin Healey
August 12, 2007 12:00am

CIRCUMCISION will be banned in Victorian public hospitals unless it is for medical reasons.

State Government has ordered the ban, which starts next month, following medical advice that circumcision of baby boys was unnecessary.

Health Minister Daniel Andrews said circumcisions would be performed only when doctors were concerned about infection or disease.

"Nationally and overseas, doctors agree there is no medical benefit to routine circumcision, and studies show the complication rate is about 5 per cent,"

Mr Andrews said. The $2 million a year saved by the ban will be spent on urgent elective surgery.

"It is important to ensure hospital services are prioritised towards treating patients who have a clinical need for surgery to improve their health," Mr Andrews said.

Ministerial Advisory Committee on Elective Surgery chairman Prof Michael Grigg said it was hard to justify spending taxpayers' money on routine circumcision.

"We should be spending relatively scarce health dollars as effectively as we can to benefit the maximum number of people," he said.

Prof Grigg said circumcision had marginal health benefits for some people, but also had a risk of complication.

About 2200 circumcisions were performed by Victorian public hospitals in the 2005-06 financial year.

Parents who want to have their sons circumcised for religious reasons will have to use a private hospital.

(File created 12 August 2007)