Health Minister responds to questions on ventilators and temporary hospitals
27th March 2020
I put a number of questions to the NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard last week relating to the State's capacity to source ventilators and temporary hospitals if needed.
His responses follow:
Q: What is the projected demand/deficiency in the number of available ventilators in NSW?
A: NSW Health has been working since early February to procure additional ventilators, to engage with ICU clinicians regarding the provision of care and to work to upskill staff to operate the relevant equipment. 534 ICU ventilators have so far been ordered by NSW Health from a range of suppliers in Australia, Europe and the USA. NSW is also seeking additional ventilators through the Commonwealth Government. This is in addition to the 1,834 adult ventilators current in NSW public hospitals. The additional ventilators which have been ordered have staggered delivery dates over the coming weeks and months.
Q: Are more ventilators being sought?
A: Yes. 534 ICU ventilators have so far been ordered by NSW Health from a range of suppliers in Australia, Europe and the USA. NSW is also seeking additional ventilators through the Commonwealth Government. The additional ventilators which have been ordered have staggered delivery dates over the coming weeks and months. Staff are being trained to work to support ICU patients and clinical refresher training is being implemented.
Q: Is there any need for temporary hospitals to be established as has occurred in other countries?
A: Local Health Districts may consider "overflow" facilities if required. In the first instance, local capacity (including private hospitals) would be used before setting up overflow facilities.
Q: Will facilities such as hotels, resorts etc be co-opted as quarantine locations for those who can’t practically isolate in home?
A: NSW Health has worked with accommodation providers re: availability of accommodation for those who cannot self-isolate.
Q: Are recently retired medical staff including nurses being looked at for re-employment to supplement existing staff?
A: The Australian Health Practitioners Registration Authority has guidance for health care workers who may wish to join the COVID-19 efforts https://www.ahpra.gov.au/News/COVID-19/COVID-19-queries.aspx
Q: What are the rates of infection in the cities v regions and are projections for infection following expected trend?
A: Data on confirmed cases of COVID-19 in NSW is available on the NSW Health website at https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/diseases/Pages/covid-19-latest.aspx. At this stage, the rates of infection are higher in metorpolitan Sydney compared to rural and regional NSW.