As the COVID-19 pandemic intensifies, a dangerous crisis is looming within Australia’s healthcare system. There are far too few hospital beds, inadequate staff and facilities, and a shortage of personal protective equipment.
A vaccine for this coronavirus is still more than a year away. The lack of an effective treatment means the best that can be done in the immediate term is to ‘flatten the curve’, preventing hospitals and intensive care units from being overloaded with cases.
While social distancing is important to lower the rate of infections, how well this pandemic can be managed is relative to the capacity of the healthcare system in each country.
The federal and state governments have tended to overemphasise social distancing measures rather than acting to bolster the healthcare system. Despite the warnings from earlier epidemics like SARS and Ebola, both Liberal and Labor governments have presided over decades of healthcare cuts and privatisations.
The number of hospital beds relative to population is woefully low in Australia. Supposedly a developed country, there are just 3.8 hospital beds for every 1,000 people. In China they have 4.3 per 1000, and have a much larger population.
The number of intensive care units per 100,000 people in Australia is also […]
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