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Thousands of urgent operations building up across London as Covid pressures continue

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Hospitals across London are racing to tackle a backlog of tens of thousands of urgent operations that need to be carried out in the coming weeks to prevent patients dying or losing limbs, The Independent has learnt.

The slow decline in Covid patient numbers means many hospitals across the capital are warning they will still be relying on extra staff, and “surge” beds opened at the height of the crisis, well into March.

NHS bosses have been briefed that across the city there are about 15,000 priority two (P2) patients. These are classed as needing urgent surgery, including for cancer, within 28 days, or they could die or be at risk of losing a limb.

But the lack of available operating theatres, nurses and anaesthetists mean the city has a shortfall of more than 500 half-day surgical lists a week.

The Independent has spoken with multiple NHS insiders and seen briefing documents detailing the challenges facing the capital’s hospitals, which are expected to last up to 21 March in some areas.

One briefing warned: “Hospitals have insufficient capacity to meet urgent elective demand for P2. P2 demand is intended to be seen within 28 days, the surge has occurred for over 28 days. Patients who would normally have been seen are waiting longer than clinically advisable."

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Source: The Independent, 25 February 2021

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