HEALTH officials are urging the state and federal governments to start looking at the longer-term, multi-level impacts on healthcare of COVID-19.
The Australian Medical Association says that coming up with a plan to withstand rising case numbers in the health system is more important than the vaccination rate. More funding is needed, it says, to help bolster the health system to cope with the inevitable "extra layer of very, sick, infectious patients."
AMA Vice President Chris Moy said the focus needs to shift now, before the health system becomes overwhelmed with COVID patients who are "extremely difficult to manage" he said.
People with COVID-19 stay in hospital for longer, are infectious for a long time, and run the risk of infecting staff who can pass it onto others, he said. "We've got to start shoring up the actual part of the system which is going to have to bear the burden of this, which is the health system."
An added complication is the higher rate of potentially dangerous complications that people with a recent COVID-19 infection face during surgery, according to the results of a recent study, released by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RAC).
The study, which involved 43 Australian hospitals, has discovered COVID-19 positive patients are 50 per cent more likely to develop dangerous blood clots during surgery, one of the most preventable causes of death in hospitalised patients, the RAC says.
The global study relying on data from 140,000 patients who underwent surgery in October 2020, found blood clots (Venous thromboembolism) were almost twice as likely in people with a recent COVID-19 infection.
It also found that having a VTE was associated with a five-times increased risk of death within 30 days following surgery compared with patients with no VTE.
Professor Pete Pockney, a Newcastle-based surgeon and a member of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons who played a key role in the study, said the study demonstrated the benefits of vaccination.
"Earlier in the year, from the same data base, we produced a paper that showed that your risk of having complications from surgery of all sorts rises the closer you are to had COVID," he said.
If you have completely recovered from COVID more than six weeks before your operation, your risk returns to normal levels, he said.
"Vaccination can prevent you from getting COVID and prevent you getting bad CVOID so you are much less likely to get into trouble. A lot of surgery you can't choose when you have it - appendicitis, being involved in a car accident ... so to protect yourself we strongly urge people to get vaccinated as quickly as they can."
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