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‘Fifth of UK hospitals cancelled operations’ during three days of 2022 heatwave

A fifth of UK hospitals were forced to cancel operations during the three days in July last year when temperatures soared, research suggests.

The findings, published in a letter to the British Journal of Surgery, are based on surveys from surgeons, anaesthetists and critical care doctors working during the heatwave from July 16-19 2022, when temperatures reached as high as 40C in some parts of the country.

The researchers received 271 responses from 140 UK hospitals – with one in five (18.5%) reporting elective surgeries being cancelled due to the heatwave.

The respondents also said surgical services were poorly prepared for heatwaves, with 41% of operating theatres having no means to control ambient temperature, while more than a third (35.4%) reported making changes to maintain routine surgical activity during the period.

These include delayed discharge of high-risk patients, changes to surgical teams, selecting lower-risk patients to have surgery, and restricting surgical activity to day cases.

Other measures included longer staff breaks, extra fluids to patients, and surgeries earlier in the morning when temperatures were lower.

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Source: The Independent, 23 March 2023


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