Andrew RT Davies MS – the Shadow Health Minister – has backed a call from one of Wales’ top surgeons for action to create “Covid-light” hospitals and pathways to work through the backlog of delayed elective operations.
Since the middle of March, thousands of elective surgery patients – those waiting for non-emergency medical treatment – have had their treatments postponed because of the Coronavirus pandemic and resultant lockdown.
Richard Johnson, a consultant breast surgeon and director in Wales of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, explained that the definition of Covid-light hospitals includes being where patients are screened before admission to make sure they are clear of the virus, and where staff will be screened weekly, or even twice weekly.
Welsh Conservative Mr Davies said:
“In Wales between March and April 2020, there were almost 21,200 fewer surgical and midwifery admissions, and 16,000 fewer urgent referrals for suspected cancer since the start of lockdown compared to the same time last year.
“We are in a pandemic, a pandemic of delayed diagnoses and postponed operations, which will cost lives. Also, for the non-life threatening conditions such as hip operations, people have been suffering for months.
“At the moment, it is down to individual health boards to plan how they go about making elective operations safe. However, we are calling for the Welsh Labour-led Government to get a grip of the situation, and carry out demand and capacity planning across the seven health boards to identify potential Covid-light hospitals and their capacities, and pathways to treatment within them.
“I back Mr Johnson’s recommendation, and it’s absolutely critical that the Health Minister takes action now so that this backlog can begin to be cleared.”