Outrage as hospitals forced to delay operations for a month amid winter crisis
Ministers last night faced cross-party outrage as hospitals in England were ordered to delay thousands of operations to cope with an NHS winter crisis.
Pre-planned procedures and outpatient appointments will be delayed until 31 January, while some trusts are telling patients to attend for emergency treatment only.
Labour blasted the “meaningless and hollow” reassurances by Theresa May about the state of the health service while the Lib Dems said the Tories have been “distracted” by infighting.
NHS England announced yesterday it was extending the delay for non-urgent inpatient care to free up capacity for more urgent patients. The procedures affected include operations such as hip and knee replacements.
Tens of thousands of operations and appointments will be affected, although cancer operations and other more pressing procedures will still go ahead.
Meanwhile, NHS England said patients could be placed in mixed sex wards - an indication of the chaos in dealing with capacity issues.
Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth hit out: “Tonight’s news confirms the very worst fears of patients and staff: another winter crisis has arrived.
“Despite the heroic efforts of our fantastic NHS staff, Theresa May’s reassurances have proved meaningless and hollow.
“Tory underfunding and cuts have left our health service more vulnerable than ever before.”
He added: “Jeremy Hunt must urgently tell us how many elective operations he expects to be cancelled and how many more people will be waiting longer in pain and anguish because their scheduled operation has had to be cancelled.”
Lib Dem health spokesperson Baroness Judith Jolly said the Tories had “run the NHS into the ground so much that it can no longer deal with the pressures of an average winter”.
She added: “The NHS needs a commitment of money, resources and staffing but this government won’t deliver it.
“The Tories knew winter was coming but have been so distracted by their own internal problems that they have failed both the NHS and the care services.”
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