Supply fears prompt audit
Authorities are auditing the critical care capacity of hospitals nationwide.
The review is intended to assess the ability to cope with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“There's a national audit going on of all the critical care capacity,” Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters on Monday.
He said that while intensive care unit beds, high-dependency beds, and equipment such as ventilators are on order, gaps will still have to be managed.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt says a “war production unit” has been convened.
“We have four companies that have indicated that they are willing to make ventilators and will be seeking approvals which have been given at light speed,” he told Nine on Monday.
“At the same time, we are working on imports and procurements, large volumes of masks have arrived over the course of the weekend, additional volumes of testing kits.”
Victoria and NSW are moving elective surgery forward to get ahead before the coronavirus peak, while WA and the NT are delaying surgeries.
The major lobby for anaesthetists, those with the most respiratory expertise, have been raising concerns for over a week that the system will not cope with the virus.
“The Australian Society of Anaesthetists [ASA] continues to call for the postponement of non-urgent elective surgery to ensure anaesthetists have adequate time to prepare for the COVID-19 pandemic in our hospitals,” ASA president Suzi Nou said in a statement.
“We are on the frontline of critical care as experts in advanced airway management and without time to prepare we are growing increasingly concerned that our members will be exposed to high risk procedures.”
The ASA says the supply and adequacy of personal protective equipment in Australia may not be adequate, especially when ‘elective blitzes’ in some states impact much-needed supplies.
The Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists has raised similar concerns about capacity.