12/01/2022 | Steven Marshall MP

More beds within our health system are being dedicated to care for COVID-19 patients so that South Australians can continue to get the care they need, when they need it, amid the Omicron surge.

Premier Steven Marshall said the latest update to the Government’s hospital plan will include transferring patients from public hospitals into private hospitals to create about 500 dedicated ward beds and also provide the capacity to provide intensive care for up to 60 patients.

“The emergence of Omicron has changed the game – the severity of cases is lower but higher transmissibility means that there are more cases. Just as we adapted our strategy for Delta, we are adapting our response to Omicron to ensure we once again rise to the challenges of the worldwide pandemic,” Premier Marshall said.

“This will mean a pivot from the original plan where the vast majority of COVID positive patients were to be cared for at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, over a significantly longer period.

“The Lyell McEwin Hospital and the Flinders Medical Centre will now also provide acute hospital care for COVID positive patients as we head towards the peak.

“This updated hospital plan meets the projected hospital requirements at the peak.

“I am very grateful to all the dedicated hospital and ambulance staff for their incredible efforts to keep South Australia safe as we tackle the new Omicron variant.”

Pathways for acute hospital patients will realign over this week to prepare for the expected peak of the current Omicron wave in late January.

In planning for the Delta variant, it was anticipated that 5 per cent of COVID-19 cases – predicted to be about 200 patients at any one time – would require hospitalisation, with 85 per cent to be treated at home or in supported hospital-in-the-hotel accommodation.

Currently, less than 1 per cent of COVID-19 cases have required hospitalisation, but the volume of cases is much higher.

There are already about 200 patients being treated at the Royal Adelaide Hospital and the Omicron outbreak has not yet reached its peak.

It is expected that 98 per cent of positive COVID-19 Omicron cases will experience mild to moderate symptoms and will be able to safely isolate in their own home, 1per cent of positive cases will require supported care (i.e. Hospital in the Hotel) and 1 per cent of positive cases will require hospitalisation.

Individuals who have mild to moderate symptoms will self-manage themselves and family members at home with access to health support resources as needed.

Our ability to manage the increased number of COVID-19 hospitalisations is built on capacity created in the public system through our COVID-Ready investments, supported by partnering with the private hospital sector to provide beds and take non-COVID activity away from public hospitals.

The Royal Adelaide Hospital will increase its capacity from 200 to 300 COVID-positive inpatients.

The Flinders Medical Centre will treat up to 100 COVID-positive inpatients in the south and will continue to treat pregnant women and their babies.

The Lyell McEwin Hospital will prepare to receive up to 100 COVID-positive inpatients in the northern suburbs.

Some regional hospitals are already treating local COVID-positive patients and will continue to do so when it is safe to do so.

The Local Health Networks, which run the SA Health public hospitals, are undertaking detailed planning to determine which services and beds can be moved to other sites to create capacity.

Some plans are already in place; for example, cardiothoracic surgery at the FMC has been moved to Flinders Private and some surgical activity is expected to flow from the RAH to the Calvary Hospital soon.

“The pandemic is constantly evolving and our response will constantly evolve,” Premier Marshall said.