London hospital prevents urgent surgery for cancer because of covid cases

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Owing to the shortage of intensive care beds used by coronavirus patients, King’s College hospital postpones operations

This week, one of the largest NHS hospitals had to postpone emergency cancer operations because Covid has 19 patients in too many of its intensive care beds.

In South London, King’s College Hospital cancelled all the “priority two” cancer surgeries that it expected to hold on Monday and Tuesday. These are treatments that have been considered urgent by cancer experts and must be undertaken within 28 days of the decision to perform them.

The postponement has caused concern among hospital staff, who believe that in some of the affected patients the cancer may spread or become inoperable.

Over the weekend, staff and patients were told of the delay that was forced on the hospital since too many beds are filled by people who are critically ill with covid in the intensive care unit.

After their treatment, some cancer patients have to spend some time in the ICU, and operations can not be done until they have enough beds in the hospital.

When patients were told the news, they were upset and concerned, as were their relatives, about how the cancellations could impact their health, sources said.

Some have been’ distraught,’ they added. As hospitalizations in London increasingly increase, King’s College Hospital is under so much pressure that it is unable to give patients who now have to wait for their delayed surgery a definite date in the future.

“One staff member said, “Within four weeks, it is necessary to handle these cancer cases because they are urgent.

The cancer can spread if you delay a cancer operation for longer than four weeks. The delay can mean that the surgery can become inappropriate because the surgery can not get rid of the cancer, and therefore the results of the patient can be worse.
As a temporary measure, several patients undergo chemotherapy to try to avoid tumor development until they have their surgery postponed.

As a result of extreme pressure on hospitals during the fast-spreading second wave of the pandemic, King’s is believed to be the first NHS hospital to cancel priority for two surgeries. On Sunday, the Observer reported that hospitals in the capital are so crowded with covid cases that NHS London leaders intend to order them to cancel cancer surgeries to concentrate resources on victims of the pandemic.

“Urgent cancer operations will not be cancelled in London.” said Sir David Sloman, chief executive of NHS London.
Sources at King’s College Hospital said that on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday it was “unlikely” that urgent cancer operations could be conducted.

Since the second wave started in September, several hospitals in England have canceled operations.

But until now, operations that usually require less time-sensitive procedures, such as cataract removal and hip and knee replacement, have been elective – non-urgent – procedures that the NHS tries to conduct within 18 weeks.

There was a request for comment from King’s College Hospital NHS Trust.

Staff cancelled all leave they had booked for this week in another sign of the stresses on the hospital, citing extreme “operational pressures” due to the rise in admissions to Covid.

“Due to the recent increase in Covid 19 patients across the trust, we are asking all executives to call staff on leave for the coming week of January 4-10, 2021, to advise them that they will need to postpone their leave and return to work,” the daily memo to staff on Sunday said.

“We were very hesitant to make this decision. We know how hard everyone has been working and recognize that to relax and heal, people need time off. But the financial burden we are currently facing means that everyone needs to be available to care for our patients and support our hospital.
This week, even workers booked on negotiated leave to “compensate” for working during Christmas and New Year are being asked if they should delay their leave and “return” to the site. The trust in Orpington, Kent, also operates the Princess Royal Hospital.

It warned workers that the situation they are facing might mean that staff leave will have to be postponed for

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