Covid outbreak forces Greater Manchester hospitals to suspend non-urgent care

Hospital trusts in Greater Manchester have suspended all non-urgent surgery and appointments in order to focus on treating coronavirus patients.

Routine and non-urgent procedures in all the trusts in the city will be suspended from Monday, November 9 – although treatments for cancer, urgent surgery and specialist procedures will continue.

The decision to “pause” all other treatments has been made as the hospitals in the area are coming under growing pressure amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The Manchester Evening News reports that letters are being sent to affected patients in the coming days – while the wider public are being advised not to call their GP or hospitals for updates.

Greater Manchester’s Health and Social Care Partnership said anyone who is not contacted should assume their appointment will go ahead as planned.

Surgeries are due to continue at Roch Infirmary and specialists hospitals, such as the Christie, after being designated as “cold” or “Covid-free”.

Urgent care such as cardiac services, vascular surgery and transplantation will all continue, as will diagnostic services, including endoscopy.

The majority of out-patient services also remain unaffected.

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On November 5, statistics were revealed to show 469.8 per 100,000 people in Manchester were testing positive for the deadly Covid-19 virus.

While nearby Oldham – which is part of Greater Manchester – recorded 737.2 cases per 100,000.

On Thursday, Manchester council leader Sir Richard Leese, who leads on health for Greater Manchester, expressed concern as the number of Covid patients exceeded those during the peak of the first wave of the virus in April.

He said: “I’m very concerned. When I talk to people from the hospital cell [the Greater Manchester expert group tasked with overseeing hospital planning to the response] certainly their level of concern has increased significantly over the last seven days and it appears to have been a particularly bad weekend.

“The signs are certainly very, very worrying.”

Wigan and Stockport’s NHS trusts and the Manchester Foundation Trust have all already paused non-urgent operations as focus returns to fighting the coronavirus.

While the Manchester Evening News reports that “all hospital trusts had in fact quietly agreed to the move this week.”

They report: “An internal email sent out to stakeholders by one trust, leaked to the M.E.N, revealed they had all collectively agreed to pause routine and non-urgent care from Monday, although not specialist or cancer work.”

It is also reported that some private hospitals, including Beaumont in Bolton, are being used to release strain on the NHS by permitting non-urgent work to be carried out there.

A spokesperson for Greater Manchester’s Health and Social Care Partnership, which includes all NHS hospitals in the city region, said: “Our hospitals are now treating more Covid patients than at the peak of the first wave and as a result of this, a number of non-urgent operations will be temporarily delayed – we are contacting the affected patients.

“Urgent and emergency care, including cancer treatment and operations will continue as normal and it’s important that anyone with concerns continues to come forward for help and treatment.

"This is why it’s so important that everyone follows guidance to minimise the spread of the virus – wear a face covering in enclosed spaces, wash your hands more frequently and minimise your contact with people outside your immediate household.”

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