Appointments cancelled as 'critical incident' declared at North West NHS trusts

Non-urgent surgeries and other appointments are being cancelled across North West hospitals after a 'critical incident' was declared due to staff shortages, caused by coronavirus.

University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay and Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust are two of several trusts declared incidents earlier this week.

At a meeting at Blackpool Victoria Hospital on Thursday, the hospital's board of governors was told that urgent procedures remain a priority, but some treatments have been cancelled.

Blackpool Victoria Hospital Credit: PA

It also means a setback for efforts to restore surgery and other treatment after waiting lists increased during lockdown.

There were 916 patients waiting more than a year for treatment in November, down from 1,046 the previous month, and 18 waiting for two years compared to a peak of 50 in July.

The Emergency Department also continues to be under pressure:

An increase in Covid patients from 35 on Christmas Eve to 125, along with a staff absence rate of 12 per cent, had exacerbated matters.

  • Dr Sakthi Karunanithi, Lancashire's Public Health Director, says the rate of infection isn't showing any signs of slowing down

A critical incident has been declared at Morecambe Bay NHS Trust.

The chief executive of University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay, Aaron Cummins, confirmed in a statement that the trust had declared an "internal critical incident".

In an internal message from Mr Cummins shared on Twitter, he told staff that "sadly, despite everyone's best efforts, many of our patients are still receiving a level of care and experience that falls below the level of standards we would like".

Mr Cummins added in his statement that some non-urgent operations and procedures would be suspended.

He said the escalation "allows us to be able to take additional steps to maintain safe services for our patients and help us cope with the growing pressures".

It comes after visiting was suspended at some hospitals in Morecambe Bay because of rising Covid cases.

  • Gamal spoke to Dr David Levy, the Medical Director for the NHS in the North West, and began by asking him whether the NHS in the North West has reached crisis point

Multiple hospitals across the country have declared critical incidents amid warnings the NHS was "in a state of crisis".

Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned on Monday that the Omicron variant "continues to surge through the country" and pressure on the NHS would last for weeks.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers - which represents health trusts, said "a number of trusts across country have declared internal critical incidents over the last few days".

Multiple hospitals across the country have declared incidents. Credit: PA

Earlier, on a visit to a vaccination centre in Buckinghamshire, the Prime Minister said: "I think we've got to recognise that the pressure on our NHS, on our hospitals, is going to be considerable in the course of the next couple of weeks, and maybe more."

Mr Johnson said he appreciated the pressure NHS staff were under, and that it was "vital that we make sure that we help them by trying to contain the pandemic" by getting vaccinated and following plan B measures.

And he warned it would be "absolute folly to say that this thing is all over now bar the shouting".

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The chief executive of the NHS Confederation, Matthew Taylor, said that "in many parts of the health service, we are currently in a state of crisis".

"Some hospitals are making urgent calls to exhausted staff to give up rest days and leave to enable them to sustain core services," he wrote in a blog published on Monday.

He added that many hospitals had been forced to ban visitors to reduce the spread of infection, while "NHS England is continuing to plan for surge capacity".