NHS hospitals have been told to cancel operations in an effort to free up 30,000 beds to create space for an expected surge in coronavirus patients.
In a letter to NHS bosses today, NHS England said hospitals should look to cancel all non-urgent surgeries for at least three months starting from 15 April.
Hospitals were given discretion to begin winding down activity immediately to help train staff and begin work setting up makeshift intensive care wards. Any cancer operations and patients needing emergency treatment will not be affected.
The letter from NHS England Chief Executive Simon Stevens said: “The operational aim is to expand critical care capacity to the maximum; free up 30,000 (or more) of the English NHS’s 100,000 general and acute beds."
In the meantime hospitals were told to do as much elective surgery, such as hip operations and knee replacements, as possible and to use private sector hospitals which it said could free up 12 to 15,000 beds across England.
Sir Simon also said patients who did not need to be in hospital should be discharged as quickly as possible adding: “Community health providers must take immediate full responsibility for urgent discharge of all eligible patients identified by acute providers on a discharge list. For those needing social care, emergency legislation before Parliament this week will ensure that eligibility assessments do not delay discharge.
Source: The Independent, 17 March 2020