Health chiefs say most operations remain off-limits despite hopes to re-start in March
Health bosses have admitted they are not currently in a position to re-start operations –because there is still too much pressure on their services due to Covid-19.
Last month NHS Lanarkshire told this newspaper that “non-urgent elective procedures” could possibly re-commence in March but have now admitted that this will not be possible due to the continuing high numbers in Intensive Care.
The decision was taken in January to temporarily postpone all operations in this category and a targeted range of outpatient appointments. A number of clinically urgent and priority procedures were not affected.
Treatments for urgent cancer care remained in place and all three acute sites continue to operate an emergency service for theatres and diagnostics.
Judith Park, NHS Lanarkshire director of acute services explained: “The number of Covid-19 patients in our hospitals is falling. However, ICU numbers remain stubbornly high for both Covid and non-Covid patients and there is still continued pressure on our resources. There are challenges to overcome before we are able to reintroduce non-urgent outpatient appointments and planned procedures but we will continue to review this on a weekly basis.”
“The safety of our patients and staff is of paramount importance and we continue to take all necessary action to ensure safe and effective patient care.
“The decision to postpone any appointment is not one that we take lightly and I apologise for the impact this will have on patients. Most patients will receive a text message confirming the postponement of their appointment.”
Dr Rory Mackenzie, University Hospital Monklands chief of medical services, added: “One of the reasons ICU numbers aren’t falling as quickly as overall hospital numbers is because of a lag with the numbers due to patients spending a substantial amount of time in ICU.
"The length of stay is far greater than pre-Covid levels so beds are occupied for longer. As numbers fall, patients will still need to come to ICU.”
Maternity and neonatal clinics will continue as normal meantime as will urgent referrals including those for cancer patients.