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NHS may cancel appointments and reduce visiting times over Covid and flu ‘twindemic’, leaders warn

NHS trusts may be forced to cancel appointments and limit visiting times in a Covid and flu “twindemic” this winter, health leaders have warned.

Fears have been raised the viruses could strip back the workforce and further increase demand for services during an already busy period.

It comes amid rising Covid infections in the UK. Around 1.3 million tested positive in late September, according to the latest figures, which was a 25% increase on the week before.

The UK is also concerned there could be a bad flu season this year, with lower immunity across the population due to reduced exposure in the Covid pandemic.

NHS leaders have warned that this background could make winter even more difficult for the health service.

“I make no bones about this: we know it’s going to be a pressurised time for trusts over the next four months if not longer,” Saffron Cordery from NHS Providers, which represents trusts in England, told The Independent.

The interim chief executive added: “We’re worried about Covid and we’re worried about flu.”

Ms Cordery said these joint pressures – which could increase demand, strip back workforces and introduce the need for greater infection control measures – could have a knock-on effect on services.

“We need to anticipate that there may well be cancellations for either outpatient appointments or routine procedures or operations, because there could be staff shortages or rising demand in emergency care – that means that those routine appointments cannot take place as quickly as we’d like,” she said.

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Source: The Independent, 8 October 2022


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