While hospitals across the world have banned all non-urgent, elective surgeries in the face of the coronavirus crisis – two of South Africa’s largest private hospital groups, Netcare and Life Healthcare, are still allowing these operations. According to a Business Insider report, only Mediclinic has decided to stop all elective surgeries at its hospitals.
In the US, president Trump has called on hospitals to stop these operations – which include cataract operations, ligament repairs, knee and hip replacements – immediately, while the UK and Australian public hospitals have banned it already. In Gauteng state hospitals, these operations have been suspended for more than a week.
The report says the ban is aimed at protecting doctors and nurses – who are crucial in the fight against coronavirus – from an increased risk of contracting the disease from contact with these patients. Also, these elective surgery patients are at an increased risk of contracting coronavirus, which could add to infection numbers. Importantly, elective surgeries can add to the burden on healthcare resources, including using scarce stocks of masks and gloves, and keep beds occupied ahead of an expected surge in serious coronavirus cases in South Africa.
While some bodies who represent surgeons, including the Federation of South African Surgeons and the Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons of Southern Africa were clear in their support of postponing elective and non-essential surgery, the report says the South African Orthopaedic Association seemed more open to elective surgeries, suggesting that it would be up to each of its members to assess the risks.Full Business Insider report