The minister overseeing Victoria’s hotel quarantine scheme, Lisa Neville, will require surgery after her Crohn’s disease condition “worsened” after time off.
In a statement on Saturday, the police minister said doctors had indicated surgery was the “only effective treatment” after she was admitted to hospital due to ongoing complications associated with Crohn’s disease in February.
She now may not return to her role until mid-year.
“The medical advice I received at the time was to undertake a period of rest and treatment – designed to give me the best chance of recovery without surgery,” Ms Neville said.
“Despite two and a half weeks in hospital, an intensive regimen of biological drug treatment and three weeks of recovery out of the public eye, this week I have undertaken a series of tests, including an MRI that has indicated that my condition has in fact worsened.”
Ms Neville will be readmitted to hospital to undergo a small bowel resection surgery on Tuesday.
“This is a significant operation that may require up to 12 weeks recovery,” she said.
“At this stage this means I will not return to my role until the end of June.
“Although it is disappointing and always concerning to have part of your bowel removed, for many who have Crohn’s this can result in a period of remission and enable people to return after recovery to normal life and work.
“I have every confidence in my medical team and the nursing support at the hospital that this surgery will give me the chance to achieve this.”
Ms Neville thanked her friends and colleagues for their support, as well as giving special mention to other Crohn’s sufferers who had reached out to her.
“This is very much a hidden illness and unless you have experienced it first-hand it is hard to understand the toll it can take, both physically and mentally,” she said.
“It is a small consolation that people are now learning more about Crohn’s, it’s triggers and the seriousness that the complications can cause.
“As stress is a major driver of the condition, I kindly request privacy over the next three months, as I focus on my recovery and return to work.”
Crohn’s disease is a chronic condition causing painful inflammation of the bowel and digestive tract. Close to 75,000 Australians suffer from it or related forms of inflammatory bowel disease.
Ms Neville had previously said she had managed the disease for the past 32 years, but the latest episode had been “the worst I have been confronted with”.
Her portfolios of police and emergency services have been temporarily taken over by Danny Pearson.