AMA (NSW) President: COVID-19 cancellation of non-urgent surgery necessary but not sole solution to poor stockpile management
- On March 26, 2020
AMA (NSW) President, Dr Kean-Seng Lim, says the cancellation of non-urgent elective surgery should be considered a short-term measure only as a COVID-19 control measure.
“Cancelling non-elective surgery will free up hospital capacity at this time, ahead of the expected demand COVID-19 will place on the health system.
“However, this kind of cancellation should not be considered anything more than a short-term measure to help make the national stockpile of personal protective equipment (PPE) last longer during the current unprecedented pandemic.
“It also highlights the failure by Federal and State Governments to create a national plan for the distribution of PPE.
“It is unclear just how much capacity this will open up in our hospitals because slack in elective surgery does not directly translate to slack in ICU or emergency, which is what we’ll need to treat COVID-19.
“We need to be looking at distribution of personal protective equipment, what we have stockpiled, and what is best used where.
“We also need to think about how we can expedite COVID-19 testing for hospital patients – if someone doesn’t have COVID-19, you don’t need COVID-19 level PPE.
“Similarly, we need to expedite testing for doctors and other health staff to reduce unnecessary interruptions due to enforced isolation.
“Patient safety, as always, must be the utmost consideration here.
“So, while we have this short-term measure in place, we need to be planning for the longer-term impact on how we can reopen non-urgent elective surgery later this year.
“It is also critical that a national plan on the distribution of safe levels of PPE be created – based on evidence, explained, and adhered to,” Dr Lim said.
Media contact: Lachlan Jones 0419 402 955