December 4, 2023


It's Your Education

Covid could cause ‘tsunami of cancelled NHS operations’

SurgeryGraphic copyright
Queen Victoria Clinic

There could be a “tsunami” of cancelled operations this winter as the NHS copes with rising quantities of coronavirus patients, foremost surgeons are warning.

Associates of the Royal College of Surgeons of England say they doubt the NHS can fulfill targets to restore surgery back again to in the vicinity of pre-pandemic amounts.

Prepared processes these types of as hip replacements were paused to totally free up beds through lockdown in the spring.

And hospitals have considering that been dealing with a backlog.

In July, NHS England manager Sir Simon Stevens advised trusts hospitals ought to by September 2020 be executing at least 80% of their September 2019 fees of:

  • right away prepared strategies
  • outpatient or day-circumstance processes

And by October, this proportion ought to increase to 90%.

But details suggests additional than two million individuals have been waiting longer than 18 months for regimen operations, with 83,000 waiting a lot more than a calendar year – up from 2,000 prior to the pandemic.

Extra than 140,000 functions these types of as knee and hip replacements had been carried out in July 2020, up from 41,000 in April.

But that is considerably less than fifty percent the level seen in July 2019.

The Royal Higher education of Surgeons of England surveyed almost 1,000 members in September and located:

  • only 14% were now capable to treat the exact same selection of clients as just before the pandemic
  • 48% stated prepared operations had been presently operating at just 50-80% of 2019 degrees

President of the higher education Prof Neil Mortensen claimed: “This is a national disaster requiring a really nationwide work across all hospitals – personal and NHS alike.

“As the virus will become additional common all over again, there is a authentic danger of a tsunami of cancelled operations unless surgical beds are funded and safeguarded.

“That means making up theatre potential and designating beds solely for all those who need to have an procedure.”

The poll also uncovered:

  • 22% were being not able to accessibility “Covid-gentle” hubs, which continue to keep surgical people individual from Covid-19 clients, specially in Wales, Northern Eire and north-east England
  • 59% stated their rely on or wellness board was not routinely testing asymptomatic team, to maintain coronavirus off surgical wards

An NHS spokesman reported the study underestimated the amount of money of surgical procedure now taking place in the NHS, incorporating that goals for the close of August had been satisfied.

“The NHS has flexed its healthcare facility capacity and local community expert services as needed throughout the pandemic, dealing with around 110,000 seriously ill men and women for Covid-19, and doubling the range of non-urgent functions because April. Additional persons are established to advantage from the deal struck with independent hospitals also to make use of their bed potential.

“Covid inpatient quantities are increasing and much depends on keeping the virus beneath control as a result of ongoing public action on palms-confront-space, Test and Trace service, and speedy motion to control community outbreaks,” he explained.

Have you experienced an procedure cancelled? How long have you been waiting? Share your experiences by emailing

Please involve a contact range if you are eager to discuss to a BBC journalist. You can also get in contact in the subsequent strategies:

If you are looking at this site and can’t see the type you will need to have to visit the cell variation of the BBC internet site to post your question or remark or you can e-mail us at