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Thousands of Derby and Burton hospital patients due for operations likely to be waiting months

Thousands of patients due to have operations at Derby and Burton’s hospitals are likely to be kept waiting for months due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

More than 55,000 patients are currently waiting for surgery medics think they need.

The number who will likely be waiting more than six months for their operations is due to more than double from 6,757 to 15,532 patients – an expected increase of 8,775 by July.

The University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust’s board papers say it will be “difficult to recover” and “turnaround is hampered”.

It says some areas of care, once reopened, will still be running at only 60 per cent capacity due to staff being transferred for intensive care support

Meanwhile, outpatient clinics will be running at just half capacity due to social distancing measures that must still be maintained.

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The trust estimates that 118 patients will have to wait for their surgery for an entire year – with this number forecast to increase to 136 by July.

It says in its board report: “Covid-19 will have a significant detrimental impact on both the volume of patients waiting for a routine operation and the length of time they will have to wait, as all routine operating ceased from March 16.

“Clinical Teams are beginning to clinically review waiting lists, both inpatient and outpatient, to ensure lists are correct and patients do still need treatment/an appointment.

“They will be prioritised appropriately, ready to be treated when ‘normal’ service resumes.”

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The papers also say: “The initial focus for recovery will be increasing cancer operating, by down-turning intensive care unit capacity back to 30 beds at Royal Derby Hospital and 10 beds at Queen’s Hospital in Burton based on current modelling of required beds for Covid-19.

“When routine surgery is able to recommence, priority will be given to the longest waiters where possible.”

The trust says none of the “long-wait patients” will be treated until the organisation resumes full activity so the number breaching 52 weeks waiting (a year) will continue to grow each month.

Its capacity, even when it decides to reopen certain services, will also be “reduced” due to the need to test patients for Covid-19 and to wear full personal protective equipment (PPE) for every operation.

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The trust says “all patients having surgery should be treated as high risk as their Covid status is not always known so full PPE has to be worn”.

Meanwhile attendance at the trust’s A&E departments is way down and hospital chiefs are worried that those who should still be coming in for check-ups and treatment are foregoing this due to concerns over the virus.

A&E daily attendance in Derby is down by half since the start of the pandemic to around 200 as of April 20.

In Burton, daily A&E attendance is down more than a third from around 225 to 140.

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