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Liverpool hospitals cut back on operations to cope with COVID-19 rise

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Hospitals in Liverpool are scaling back non-urgent operations to help them cope with COVID-19 patients despite NHS bosses insisting that normal care continues during the second wave.

NHS trusts elsewhere in north-west England, as well as in the north-east and Midlands, are also preparing to cancel routine surgery such as joint replacements and hernia repairs amid a rapid rise in seriously ill coronavirus patients.

A potential second suspension of non-Covid care is looming despite warnings that this may lead to many thousands dying because their cancer, heart problem or other illness is not diagnosed or treated.

Steve Warburton, the chief executive of Liverpool University Hospitals NHS trust, acknowledged that doing less surgery would be “distressing” for patients affected but said the city’s three main acute hospitals had reached a “critical point”.

It is the first trust in England to make clear it cannot provide normal levels of non-Covid care during the second coronavirus surge, even though NHS England has told all hospitals to do so. The decision is likely to lead to other trusts doing the same.

Warburton said: “We will continue to prioritise surgery based in clinical need with a view to maintaining urgent and cancer surgery where possible.” He promised that the trust would continue to provide outpatient appointments “wherever possible” and keep giving patients diagnostic tests such as CT and MRI scans.

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Source: The Guardian, 12 October 2020

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