Australia – The Australian government has lifted pandemic restrictions on elective surgeries as of June 1st, but for hospitals and clinics it will hardly be business as usual. After an estimated 400,000 elective surgeries were cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions – according to the international CovidSurg project – the health care community must prepare to face a giant backlog of surgeries. 

To paint a clearer picture of what these cancelled surgeries will mean for public hospitals, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age conducted an analysis. Their numbers show 120,000 people will be added to public hospital waiting lists, which included about 36,000 in Victoria (a 71 percent increase) and around 32,400 in NSW (a 36 percent increase).

To meet the demand health professionals have called on their governments to create a plan to help them deal with the caseload – some of who have responded. 

State governments in NSW and Victoria gave the go-ahead to hospitals to increase elective surgeries from 25 percent of pre-pandemic levels – the limit set in late April when the ban on non-essential surgeries was partially lifted – up to first 50 percent by May 31, and eventually up to 75 percent by June 30. 

As COVID-19 restrictions continue to ease up, The Sydney Morning Herald reports that elective surgery operations could resume back to 100 percent capacity by the end of July. However, it would require an increase of 110 percent to begin to chip away at the backlog. 

While there is no set plan yet to raise surgeries past 100 percent capacity clinics should ask themselves if they are even equipped to handle such an increase in patients. Some healthcare facility quality and safety questions clinics and hospitals should be asking before resuming operations:

  • Do you have adequate capacity for preoperative, intraoperative, postoperative, and post-acute care? 
  • Are all necessary resources available including critical care, lab services, peri-anesthesia units, diagnostic imaging?
  • Have you considered new sites for elective surgeries, such as converted COVID-19 care spaces? 
  • Can your facilities meet the current local and national recommendations for social distancing? 
  • Have your operating rooms been engineered to meet standards for air exchanges?

These are only a few preliminary standards and healthcare facilities should consider hiring specialists to conduct consultations that are up to date on nationwide regulations. 

For a free consultation on preparing your clinic to safely and effectively resume operations to 100% or even up to 110% contact Space for Health. Our in house team of healthcare professionals, designers, engineers and other skilled professionals can help ensure your space is optimized and up to code to help each patient that comes through your door.

Space for Health specialises in the design and delivery of top-quality healthcare environments and is experienced in large-scale projects and national rollouts. Powered by an expert team of in-house architects, interior designers, health planners and project managers, Space for Health has successfully completed over 200 projects in the medical construction industry in locations across Australia.