The state’s metropolitan public hospitals have cancelled non-urgent surgeries from midnight on Tuesday until midnight on Thursday.

The decision is to alleviate stress on an “overwhelmed hospital system” and “high demand” expected to continue over Easter long weekend.

In a statement released on Tuesday afternoon, the Department for Health and Wellbeing’s chief executive, Robyn Lawrence, said that all public metropolitan hospitals in Adelaide will postpone surgeries.

“This includes, where appropriate, postponing all non-urgent surgery [Category 2 and 3] in the metropolitan area from 12am on Wednesday 27 March until 11:59pm Thursday 28 March,” the statement read.

“All of the state’s emergency departments are open and continuing to operate as normal, however, we are taking steps to increase capacity across the system and reduce non-urgent demand.”

SA Health said all surgery classified as an “emergency or urgent category 1” will continue and so will paediatric surgeries and IVF procedures.

“Any non-urgent surgeries will require approval on the basis we have enough beds available,” the statement added.

“Patients impacted by the postponements will be contacted to advise them, and these appointments will be rescheduled as soon as possible.

“There will be more challenges ahead in the coming days and I’m confident that we will all work together as a system to tackle them.”

The ABC reported on Monday that Flinders Medical Centre, in Adelaide’s southern suburbs, had been operating at “code yellow” due to a surge in patient demand.

A code yellow means a hospital has declared an internal emergency and every ward is overcapacity or under stress.

The South Australian Salaried Medical Officers Association did not participate in the decision to postpone non-urgent surgeries but chief officer Bernadette Mulholland said that the hospital system is in a “critical situation”.

Bernadette Mulholland says postponing some surgery is a “quick fix”.(ABC News: Shari Hams)

“The cancellation of elective surgery is another symptom of an overwhelmed hospital system,” Ms Mulholland said.

“It’s potentially in crisis as we move into the long weekend and Easter.”

Ms Mulholland said that while it will assist the flow of patients this weekend, the system will continue to operate at overcapacity.

“Cancellation of elective surgery is not something that can be sustained long term,” she said.

“It’s a short term solution that doesn’t resolve the problems we are facing in health at the present time.

“We need discussion about workforce, about long term strategies, certainly as we face winter months ahead.”