Coronavirus: Hospitals prepare to suspend non-emergency operations

Hospitals are being told to look at suspending non-emergency operations due to coronavirus, as one patient said their heart bypass has been cancelled due to worries over Covid-19.
Watch more of our videos on Shots!
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Senior sources told the Health Service Journal (HSJ) that NHS England has asked trusts to sort their patients by risk so that routine surgery can be postponed as Covid-19 cases surge.

It comes as some patients took to social media to complain about appointments and surgery being postponed or cancelled due to Covid-19.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Wayne Randall, a 39-year-old painter and decorator from Ashford in Kent, was due to have a double heart bypass on Monday, but was informed on Thursday that it would be cancelled because of the virus.

Non-elective surgery could be cancelledNon-elective surgery could be cancelled
Non-elective surgery could be cancelled

Mr Randall told PA he needs the surgery "badly" and said his mental health was suffering as a result of his wait for treatment.

"I've been trying my hardest to get my courage up for Monday at great stress just to be told it's cancelled," he said.

"It's so up and down, it's really not good for my heart with the state it's in. I'm not well at all, I've been in bed for weeks worrying."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He added that going private was "not an option", adding: "I'm out of work and broke."

The HSJ reported that trusts have been told to firm up their plans for how they would reduce and potentially suspend non-emergency operations, while also protecting "life saving" procedures such as cancer treatment.

Any suspensions could last for several months, HSJ reported, and hit thousands of pre-planned operations.

NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson told BBC's Newsnight on Wednesday the NHS was preparing to cancel non-emergency operations but had not done so yet.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He said freeing up capacity could increase the number of beds needed by those with Covid-19.

"If you stopped doing elective surgery, you could convert theatres, you could convert resuscitation rooms, recovery areas into places where you could provide intensive care," he said.

He said the system could double intensive care capacity "relatively easily", but the NHS was looking at how it could be increased even further.

Around 4.6 million people in England are currently on the NHS waiting list.

Waiting list expert Dr Rob Findlay told HSJ waiting lists would grow, with a big impact on those already waiting a long time for procedures such as hip and knee replacements.