The NHS has ordered hospitals to suspend all non-urgent operations and routine outpatient appointments until February.
NHS England has taken the drastic steps of ordering hospitals in England to suspend all non-urgent activities. Hospitals are struggling to cope with the unprecedented demand for services since Christmas. Officials estimate that this could lead to 55,000 deferred operations.
However, cancer operations and time-critical procedures should go ahead as planned and should not be cancelled unless absolutely necessary.
NHS England has also given hospitals the green light to put patients in mixed sex wards.
Dr Richard Fawcett, a Consultant of Emergency Medicine in Stoke on Trent, apologised to his patients for the “third world conditions”.
Nursing and Medical are also thought to be contributing to the crisis as hospitals struggle to fill staffing gaps.
The National Emergency Pressures Panel (NEPP) met for the second time and activated the new NHS winter pressures protocols;
Extending the deferral of all non-urgent inpatient elective care to free up capacity for our sickest patients to 31 January. The panel reiterated that cancer operations and time-critical procedures should go ahead as planned.
Over and above this, day-case procedures and routine outpatient appointments should also be deferred where this will release clinical time for non-elective care.
Whilst overall the NHS is doing better than ever before in vaccinating health care workers there is significant variation between organisations. There should be an immediate prioritisation of vaccination of all frontline staff.
In November the Royal College of Nursing warned the government that healthcare staff and NHS were nearing breaking point.