Australian doctors ‘under siege’ over shortage of specialist physiotherapy equipment
Physiotherapy specialists in Australia are facing a shortage of equipment, as the country struggles to cope with the coronavirus pandemic.
The shortage is causing a huge headache for Australian doctors and hospitals, as they struggle to provide the high-quality care they need to treat patients in an increasingly complex environment.
Australian physiotherapy is one of the most effective ways to treat the common cold and the flu, as it treats the underlying immune system, causing the body to produce antibodies to attack and kill viruses.
A study released earlier this month found that just over half of Australians surveyed said they were able to find at least one physiotherapy specialist in their local area.
This shortage of specialists has caused concern among Australian physiotherapy practitioners, who say they are being forced to choose between the availability of equipment or treating their patients in a more clinical environment.
“We are seeing a lot of confusion on the ground as to whether we should be operating in a clinical setting or in a hospital setting,” said Dr Michael Caulfield, an Australian physiotherapist.
“What we’re seeing is a lot more confusion and people aren’t sure which is best for their patient.”
Dr Caulfeld said he was concerned that the shortages were becoming more acute, as some Australian physiologists were using the same equipment they were using in their own practice.
“There is definitely a concern that the supply of equipment is being over-stretched and the demand for the equipment is increasing and it’s just a matter of time before we see shortages in the future,” he said.
“The availability of these equipment is going to become increasingly constrained, and it could become a bottleneck for us to respond to this pandemic.”
Australia’s coronaviral pandemic has seen a number of hospitals and healthcare organisations reporting a shortage in staff to help manage the increasing demand.
Australian doctors are also experiencing the most severe shortage of supplies, with a shortage at least as severe as the one experienced by physiotherapy specialists.
Dr Caufield said he had also experienced some of the symptoms of a shortage.
“One of the things that we have noticed is that people are beginning to feel a bit queasy and they’re becoming more cautious,” he explained.
“People are looking for comfort, they’re not getting the quality of care that they need, and they may be concerned about having their equipment.”
Dr Gino Piazza, CEO of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RASC), said he felt that physiotherapy had been a cornerstone of the Australian healthcare system for a long time.
“Physiotherapy is an extremely effective and highly effective treatment for the common chronic cold, flu and influenza,” he told ABC News.
“But in recent years it has become increasingly difficult for Australian clinicians to meet the needs of their patients, particularly for patients who are more frail.”
Dr Piazzo said the shortage was not only affecting Australian physiothèques, but also the medical schools and hospitals.
“They have been relying on Australian-made equipment,” he added.
“If you look at the hospitals, they have an array of equipment they need that’s been imported from overseas, so if they can’t get the supplies from the United States, they may have to look elsewhere.”
Dr Paul McManus, the CEO of Melbourne-based medical school Victoria Medical School, said the shortages had been devastating for physiotherapy.
“In the past couple of years we have been facing a very challenging shortage of training, which is very difficult to manage,” he admitted.
“It has affected the training of our staff and our ability to meet our medical training targets.”
Dr McManuses said he did not know of any other hospitals that had experienced shortages of equipment.
“For physiotherapy, it is just as difficult as physiotherapy for other medical services, so it’s something that we are seeing more and more across our hospital system,” he warned.
“Our hospitals have been trying to get some of these supplies and are working very hard to ensure that we can continue to supply physiotherapy in this way.”
Dr Michael Cauford said he expected the shortage to become more acute as the pandemic wore on.
“I think it’s only going to get worse and worse and we will have shortages as the months go on,” he noted.
“This is a very significant problem for us in our community and it is something that I am concerned about, because I am not sure how we are going to cope.”