BACKGROUND: COVID-19 has greatly impacted surgical specialities throughout the globe leading to a decrease in hospital admissions and referrals . Neurosurgery has seen a great decline in cases including head trauma leading to a negative impact on the development of neurosurgical trainees . The main objective of this study is to the identify changes in neurosurgical referrals, admissions and management during the COVID-19 pandemic . We also aim to assess how current practise could be adapted to help manage future pandemic peaks .
METHODS: Data was collected for the first 31 days of lockdown during 2020 (23rd March - 22nd April) and compared to the same time period in the years 2016-2019 . We assessed the number of referrals, admissions and clinical information of patients during this period with a key emphasis on head trauma .
RESULTS: Neurosurgical head injury referrals and admissions reduced by 57.5% and 48.3% respectively during the first 31 days of lockdown when compared to the mean figures for the same period in the previous 4 years . This was also seen with head trauma with a 21.9% decline in referrals and 39.1% reduction in admissions for the period of interest . A significant decrease in length of stay (P <0.001) was seen between 2020 and the years 2017-19 .
CONCLUSION: The impact of COVID-19 makes it imperative that we plan for future pandemics to lessen the impact on neurosurgery . Special considerations need to be taken so that trainees are sufficiently prepared for completion of training whilst still priotising patient safety and providing high quality care.