• Thursday, December 08, 2022

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Thousands of hospital appointments postponed due to Queen’s funeral

NHS trusts are believed to have said knee replacements, cataract surgery, maternity checks and some cancer treatments would be put off.

Representative image (iStock)

By: Chandrashekar Bhat

A bank holiday on the day of the Queen’s funeral has prompted the postponement of thousands of “non-urgent” surgeries and clinic appointments, media reports said on Tuesday.

“The day of the State Funeral will be treated as a bank holiday so please go ahead and start rescheduling patients,” openDemocracy quoted a central London hospital trust as telling its doctors.

The Queen’s funeral will be held on September 19 which is declared a holiday, although government guidelines stated that there “is no statutory entitlement to time off.”

The holiday is “a matter for discussion between individuals and their employer”, the guidelines said even as NHS England allowed its trusts to decide on the matter “locally”.

Some NHS trusts are believed to have said knee replacements, cataract surgery, maternity checks and some cancer treatments would be put off.

Almost 6.8 million people were waiting for appointments at the end of July and more than 377,000 of them had been waiting for more than a year, the openDemocracy report said.

According to NHS data, treatment of nearly 40 per cent of cancer patients has been delayed by more than two months.

However, NHS England’s primary care director Ursula Montgomery said in an official communication to her colleagues that given the importance of delivering the Covid-19 autumn booster programme, “we would ask that scheduled care home visits (which are a high priority for the programme) are maintained and delivered as planned.

“We strongly encourage any clinics scheduled on that day to be maintained particularly where there is a high population need,” Montgomery said and urged providers to discuss with their local commissioner “any need to flex or condense hours to support providers.”

“GP practices will also wish to consider rescheduling pre-booked appointments and enabling patients to receive prescriptions, especially repeat medicines, in advance of the bank holiday,” the care director of the state-funded health organisation said.

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