As the pace of the vaccine rollout accelerates and optimism starts to return, we can reflect on the challenges – and opportunities – that Covid-19 has brought and the impact the pandemic has had on the health sector.

There are, no doubt, lessons to be learned from our country’s response to the pandemic that can help inform future planning. This edition of the newsletter includes a look back at the Covid-19 journey from a healthcare facilities provider’s perspective, as well as examples of solutions that have been successfully implemented by hospitals.

The pandemic isn’t over; a couple of months ago we saw elective surgery postponed in Perth as part of a snap three-day lockdown, and at the time of writing Melbourne has just gone into lockdown for seven days, so the need to maintain preparedness for local outbreaks is still there. Still, it seems like there is now a shift in focus from dealing with the pandemic to moving forward and planning for the future.

Among positive developments in the past couple of months has been the Australian Government’s announcement that it is investing an additional $6.7 million to support and improve outcomes for cancer patients, and launching The Australian Cancer Plan, which will set out the key national priorities and action areas over the next 10 years, including prevention and early diagnosis. The Department of Health also released the draft National Preventive Health Strategy, with a final version expected soon.

A key theme in the new edition of Healthcare Spaces is capacity. Is there sufficient physical capacity now and in the future to deal with sudden changes, as well as long term, gradual increase in demand for health services? For elective care and diagnostic services, it’s not just about the number of people on the waiting list now, there is also a need to prepare for the backlog of patients that have put off seeking care during the pandemic.

June’s newsletter includes an review of demand for orthopaedic surgery, both pre- and post-Covid from both a national and international perspective. Also included in this edition is an article by Dr Surani McCaw around key considerations and critical success factors when it comes to water quality and infection control in hospital departments.

Something which is at the top of the post-pandemic agenda – and among the key challenges in healthcare design – is sustainability. It is becoming more important to design smarter, to look at the longer term operational cost and impact of facilities, and to find opportunities to save energy.

Sustainability is also a theme of the upcoming 7th European Healthcare Design Congress & Exhibition, a leading forum for exchange of research findings, best practice and policy thinking on the design of health infrastructure, which this year features a wealth of Australian speakers.

While we eagerly await a return to meeting in person, this year’s event takes place online. I understand Healthcare Spaces has a limited number of free tickets to the event. To be considered for one of these, get in touch with the editorial team at: by 10th June.



David Stoneley
Director of Health Architecture – Australia at GHD Woodhead
Guest Editor, Healthcare Spaces Q2 2021