Yesterday, we saw long queues form on our high streets as many non-essential shops reopened after three months of lockdown. As we move towards something approaching a normal life, attention is also turning towards what’s happening with the healthcare sector – both NHS and independent. Last week, a report from the NHS Confederation, which represents leaders from across the healthcare sector, warned that NHS waiting lists are likely to double to 10 million people by the end of the year.
Furthermore, the NHS still has their contract with private hospitals in place at the moment, meaning that theatre capacity for private patients will also be impacted and significantly reduced compared to normal, depending on how much theatre time the NHS actually take up. Mr Simon Bridle recently wrote to his patients, explaining what impact this will have on his private surgery practice.
“It is not yet clear how the private hospitals are going to allocate theatre time to individual surgeons and patients. They are faced with a large number of operations needing to be done across multiple different specialties. We have been engaged in ongoing dialogue with the hospitals, which has not been easy, as the situation seems to change on an almost daily basis!
“We are hopeful that a prioritisation procedure will be developed to enable fair distribution of resources. We are lobbying hard for joint replacement patients to be given high priority. It is accepted that delay is not good for these patients, so I am hopeful in this regard.
“It may be that some operations are offered at fairly short notice, but please bear in mind that the infection control pathway will include two weeks of isolation before admission.”
COVID 19 and joint replacement surgery
In terms of patient safety and COVID 19, Mr Bridle also covered the hard work that private hospitals have been undertaking to make elective hip and knee replacement procedures as safe as possible.
“Our understanding around COVID 19 and how to work safely in hospitals has increased enormously over the last three months. With appropriate infection control pathways, the risk of performing planned orthopaedic surgery is very small and you may feel the risk is worth taking,” hip surgeon Mr Bridle explained. “Although we think the measures that we are taking make the risk of infection as low as possible, it could still occur and some patients may decide to defer surgery for the time being.”