More than 44,000 appointments cancelled by York Hospital Trust

York Hospital. Photograph: Richard McDougall

More than 44,000 appointments have been cancelled by York Hospital Trust during the coronavirus outbreak – and MPs have raised concerns about the backlog.

In addition to the 44,477 appointments cancelled by the hospital, a further 3,759 outpatient consultations were cancelled by worried patients.

York Central MP Rachael Maskell will raise the issue with the Health Secretary – saying the NHS needs help to address the backlog.

And York Outer MP Julian Sturdy said the cancellations risk creating a future wave of hospital admissions at a time when the trust needs to be vigilant against any increase in coronavirus infections.

According to the hospital, 158 patients have now been waiting more than a year for planned surgery – many for dental procedures.

And this number is likely to rise as a result of national guidance issued on March 17 ordering hospital trusts to postpone all non-urgent procedures for at least three months.

Concerned by delays

Julian Sturdy and Rachael Maskell MPs

Ms Maskell said: “The scale of the figure of cancelled appointments demonstrates the scale of sacrifice made by patients in order to provide a focused response to Covid-19.

“It is important that patient services are able to safely resume as soon as possible and additional capacity built to address this backlog of cases, not least for those who have been waiting a substantial amount of time to receive necessary healthcare.”

Mr Sturdy said he wrote to the trust’s chief executive to ask about plans to safely restart routine surgery and appointments – and offer his help by pressing NHS England and the Department for Health.

He added: “The danger is this patient backlog could risk generating a future wave of hospital admissions at the same time as our local NHS needs to remain vigilant against any rise in Covid-19 infections.

“While appointment cancellations and surgery delays were understandable and sadly necessary as our local health service faced the peak of the virus, not least to protect the health of patients, affected residents will understandably be concerned by delays to their planned treatment.”

Restarting routine surgery

An ambulance pulls in to York Hospital. Photograph: YorkMix

A spokesperson for York Hospital said the Trust is preparing to restart routine surgery and appointments as quickly as possible.

But they warned that the situation is still far from “business as usual” and a second wave of the virus is possible.

Patients will be prioritised by the severity of their condition – to reduce the risk of harm caused by delays.

The spokesperson said: “Just like the rest of the NHS, our number one priority for the last few months has been ensuring that all those who need urgent care – not just those with coronavirus – have been able to get it when they need it.

“Combined with the need to avoid unnecessary contact to reduce the spread of the virus, this has meant that some non-urgent appointments and surgeries may have been postponed, and others delivered differently using technology.

“We will also need to factor in the provision of associated medicines, PPE, blood, consumables, equipment and other supplies, as well as workforce.”

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