Table 3

Suggested strategies to support surgical decision making during COVID-19 and future crises

ThemesSuggested strategies
The context of uncertainty
  • Establish strategy of clear and regular communication from institutional and clinical leaders.

  • Establish evidence-based practice guidelines for treatment rationalisation.

  • Maintain multidisciplinary consultations and discussion to ensure consensus decision making and support.

Limited resources
  • Establish prioritisation system for personnel, consumable and treatment resources.

  • Establish split treatment teams to reduce vulnerability of cross-infection among clinicians and support staff.

  • Establish ‘designated survivor’ status.

  • Ensure early communication and agreement between stakeholders within treatment teams of treatment and diagnostic strategies.

Duty of care
  • Establish clear guidelines with regard to personal protective equipment.

  • Establish clear guidelines for institutional and personal guidelines for direct patient contact.

  • Establish prioritisation for shared (centre vs community) services, for example, investigations and biopsy.

  • Minimise travel to and from treatment centres.

  • Broaden network of treatment facilities, for example, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

  • Maintain multidisciplinary consultations to ensure optimal care.

  • Ensure patient support system exists.

  • Develop mechanisms to assess mental health of staff.

  • Provide clear institutional support for mental health needs of individuals and teams.

Least-worst decision making
  • Maintain multidisciplinary consultations to ensure decision support.