How Has Covid Changed the Elective Surgery Process?
The coronavirus pandemic was a singularly disruptive event, with drastic consequences for every industry and walk of life. Healthcare naturally stood at the frontlines, receiving the biggest burden in terms of growing patient numbers while necessarily changing day-to-day processes and juggling falling staff numbers – in turn, affecting non-covid related wards, cases and patients.
Elective Surgeries and the Coronavirus Pandemic
Elective surgeries have seen perhaps the biggest delays when it comes to coronavirus-related concessions. Being non-urgent, elective procedures have taken a back-seat to the backlog of vital surgeries and life-saving interventions. The British Medical Association reports that the number of NHS patients awaiting elective care has risen to 6.5 million – 5% of which will wait over a year for treatment.
Case Study – Transform Hospital, and Patient Support
While the backlog has affected public healthcare much more than private healthcare, the coronavirus has still had a major impact on the operation of private hospitals and cosmetic surgery providers. Waiting times naturally increased, but administrative change enabled them to continue to offer their care in a safe manner.
Those waiting to undergo popular cosmetic surgery procedures saw the quality of their healthcare preserved by changes to the administration of their pre- and post-operative consultations. Cosmetic surgery providers Transform saw nurses pivot to remote consultation roles, wherein patients were offered 24/7 support and detailed instructions on administering their own recovery.
The Evolving Role of Nurses
Transform’s story illustrates a wider movement within the medical establishment, wherein the roles of healthcare practitioners shifted to accommodate the new challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic. Nursing roles necessarily pivoted to accept new responsibilities, both within care and in terms of the wider national fight against the virus.
The initial moratorium on elective care procedures saw NHS nurses immediately shift to frontline care, assisting coronavirus patients on newly-constructed nightingale wards across the country. Meanwhile, private facilities and cosmetic surgeries partnered with the NHS to provide assistance behind the frontlines on cancer and outpatient wards.
But while the pandemic saw a significant change in the workloads of nursing staff, a longer-term question was posed about the viability of the profession. The pandemic was an understandably stressful time for medical staff of all types, but a study uncovered that as many as a third of nurses and midwifes were suffering from a “severe” mental illness, largely as a result of the pandemic.
The road back to normality for elective procedures in both public and private settings remains a long one, even as the worst of the pandemic recedes into memory. But with resilient staff and a positive approach to patient care, elective procedures in public and private facilities alike remain safe. In the case of private cosmetic procedures, quality of life is preserved despite the shifting priorities and roles of staff throughout healthcare.