Surgical deprogramming, the undesirable side effect of the health crisis

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While the reconfinment is now proven, the health sector has seen better days. Health services such as hospitals are trying to cope with the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. To reduce the congestion of emergency services and free up health workers for the sick, many surgical operations are deprogrammed… An adverse effect that directly impacts care pathways, as well as the prevention of cancers in particular.

Surgical deprogramming, the domino effect of COVID-19 with our health

The resurgence of the Covid-19 pandemic is now having a direct impact on the quality of medical care. Indeed, to concentrate medical resources, decisions to deprogram surgical procedures become the rule. While these choices can be agreed, they are nevertheless a concern for the patients concerned. Their health is placed in the background. At the same time, doctors note a marked slowdown in cancer prevention. Individuals are less likely to go to the hospital for the recommended screenings.

In this context, Le Bloc, the first union of anaesthetists, obstetrician gynaecologists, and surgeons in France, and Avenir Spé, a trade union of specialist doctors since 1975, warn about the dangers of such a situation (1). The occasion to recall that while the Covid-19 is an emergency not to be overlooked, it should not take over the paths of care for other pathologies.

Thus, they call on crisis cells to integrate doctors who specialize in heavy technical trays rather than discard them. They also invite medical services to refer to the anaesthetist-surgeon duo. Thereby stressing the importance of intelligently assessing the impact of delaying an intervention before making a decision. In addition, The Block and Avenir Spé suggest “maintaining surgical activity for procedures that do not require the use of continuous surveillance units”. Finally, they remind us of the importance of not carrying out the massive cancellation of surgical procedures. They recommend that we choose on a case-by-case basis to adapt to the influx of patients.

strike a balance between health and the economy for sustainable growth
Find a balance in the management of care paths to avoid massive surgical deprogramming and the impact on the economy.

Economics and health, forbidden conciliation?

It is clear that the health of our economy is closely linked to the health of the people who run it. This is a common sense, but the health and budgetary policies of the past decades, across the globe, have somewhat been left out. As a result, the health crisis has been coupled with an unprecedented economic crisis, so governments are now looking for a way to rebalance the balance.

Nevertheless, INSEE’s forecast for the fourth quarter of 2020 is hardly binding (2). Thus, after the rebound in activity following the May de-disconfinement, the resurgence of the epidemic and the declared reconfinment will undoubtedly cause a further contraction of the economy. Experts hope so far not to relive the Situation in March. For good reason, national GDP fell by 5.9% in the first quarter; 13.8% in the second. He finally left with an estimated 16% increase in the third quarter. Once again held back in November, the forecast for the annual results fell by 9%.

Faced with this state of events, many experts are now working to reinvent the health-economy paradigm. Thus, Eloi LAURENT, in his book “What if health guided the world?” takes the side that “life expectancy and full health must now become our common compass […] in a world where human well-being and ecosystem vitality are irretrievably intertwined.”

An interesting reflection to review health and economic policies, in the face of our past mistakes. And for good reason, health and ecology are now a real protection for the economy. It is also an opportunity to build on the future by building a sustainable, healthy workforce.

By letting ourselves be guided by a full health that gives full place to the ecosystems that make us live, we can find a way to reorient our economic systems to give a shared meaning to the ecological transition: a transition that is individual as well as collective, personal as relational, biological as ecological.



  1. Press release “Alert on non-medical deprogramming!”, The Block and Avenir Spé, 28 October 2020
  2. Insee, Economic Notes of October 6, 2020
  3. Eloi Laurent “What if health guided the world? Life expectancy is better than growth,” LLL Editions, in bookstores on November 4
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