It is reported that NHS Trusts in London, Essex and Kent have begun cancelling more routine surgery as they struggle to cope with rising admissions for Covid-19. This is very concerning as it is likely to affect thousands of patients and increase the existing backlog.
With Covid-19 cases continually rising again since the start of December 2020, particularly in London, the East of England, and the South East, the demand for bed space has meant that NHS Trusts have looked to cancel non-urgent surgeries. As a result of these recent cancellations patients who are already listed for routine operations are likely to face an anxious wait for their respective treatments.
As at the week ending 13 December, the average percentage of beds occupied was at 89% across England. Notably, the East of England, South East, and London were all in excess of 90%. With the recent imposition of Tier 4 across many areas of the South East and East of England, bed occupation is only anticipated to increase, which in turn will only intensify the pressure on the NHS services.
The advice from the NHS is, and has been throughout the pandemic, to come forward and seek advice where you have concerns about your health.
Delay in diagnosis or treatment, or both, can have a severe impact on survival rates and available treatments. Nevertheless there remain concerns that patients are experiencing longer waits for important tests which may be leading to delays in diagnosis.
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Professor Stephen Powis, of NHS England, has previously said operations must not be cancelled this winter unless 'absolutely unavoidable'. However, Barts Health Trust, which runs five London hospitals, said it had been forced to divert ambulances and cancel operations in the past week.