Patients face having ‘vital operations cancelled’ as London hospitals fill with Covid patients


ancer patients face an agonising wait for vital operations as London hospitals fill with Covid-19 patients, it has been reported.

NHS chiefs are considering cancelling some “priority two” surgeries across London in a move that could mean some cancer patients waiting months for operations, the Observer revealed.

“These are operations that are curative if done within four weeks but if you wait longer they may not be so effective”, one senior London NHS figure told the Observer.

“The impact of this on patients’ health depends on when they get rebooked. Delaying cancer surgery can lead to tumours growing or spreading – and worse outcomes.”

Sir David Sloman,  NHS regional director for London denied that ‘urgent’ cancer operations were being cancelled in the capital.

He said: “Londoners continue to receive urgent cancer care and surgery. Urgent cancer surgery is not being cancelled in London, and The Observer did not approach us to check for factual accuracy before running its story.”

Meanwhile, Blood Cancer UK has said parents suffering from the disease consider keeping their children at home if they are in an area of high coronavirus infection rates.

“We are now at a point where the infection rate is very high and yet we are just weeks away from getting vulnerable people vaccinated,” the charity said.

Paediatricians have denied reports that they are seeing significant pressure from coronavirus on children’s wards as they sought to reassure concerned parents, following reports of increased admissions among younger people.

It came after children’s nurse Laura Duffel told the BBC’s Adrian Chiles on his radio show: “It was minimally affecting children in the first wave but we have a whole ward of children here and I know some of my colleagues are in the same situation with whole wards of children with Covid.”

Professor Russell Viner, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), said the “overwhelming majority” of children and young people have no symptoms or very mild illness only.

He added that while the more transmissible variant of the virus, linked to the faster spread in the south of England, appears to affect all ages, paediatricians are not seeing any greater severity in children.

“Children’s wards are usually busy in winter.

“As of now we are not seeing significant pressure from Covid-19 in paediatrics across the UK,” Prof Viner said in a statement on Saturday.

“As cases in the community rise there will be a small increase in the number of children we see with Covid-19, but the overwhelming majority of children and young people have no symptoms or very mild illness only.

“The new variant appears to affect all ages and, as yet, we are not seeing any greater severity amongst children and young people.”

His comments were supported by a number of paediatricians working in children’s wards.

Dr Ronny Cheung, consultant paediatrician at the Evelina Children’s Hospital in London, said: “I’ve been the on-call consultant in a London children’s hospital this week.

“Covid is rife in hospitals, but not among children – and that is corroborated by my colleagues across London.”

Dr Liz Whittaker, consultant paediatrician at St Mary’s Hospital London, said she continues to “worry for my elders, not my kids”.

“There are lots of children with Covid positive tests, but thankfully only small numbers with severe disease or Pims (the rare inflammatory disease associated with Covid), and these are within expected levels – given the London rates,” she said.


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