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SOUTHMEAD HOSPITAL: Weekend elective operation planned to clear lacklog

SOUTHMEAD HOSPITAL: Weekend elective operation planned to clear lacklog

Image: LDRS

Southmead Hospital is to start routine operations at the weekends in a bid to clear a “phenomenal” backlog of elective surgeries that has piled up during the pandemic.

The move is part of a wider plan by North Bristol NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, to recover from the toll the pandemic has taken on staff, patients and services.

But even as the new plan was revealed “hot off the press” this month, warnings of a third wave of coronavirus this summer were starting to emerge.

Chief operating officer Karen Brown described the recovery plan at a council meeting on March 17, saying the trust would have to do something “extraordinary” to tackle the build-up of planned operations.

“The backlog is phenomenal,” she said. “But this is going to take a long while for us to be able to get back on an even keel.

“We will have to operate on a Saturday and a Sunday without question.”

Ms Brown told members of South Gloucestershire Council’s health scrutiny committee that Southmead Hospital’s elective theatres were fully operational again after planned operations were cancelled during the height of the second wave of the pandemic in January.

Wards for patients to recover from surgery were converted to provide extra ICU beds, but these have been converted back again, she said.

But the trust will need extra staff, theatre space and recovery beds to support Saturday and Sunday elective operations.

“So we’re looking at all things: we’re looking at the independent sector, we’re looking at the resources that we’ve got available to us, and any resource that we’re able to pull in,” Ms Brown said.

The hospital was also forced to cancel routine outpatient appointments in January to free up specialists to help look after Covid patients, but managed to protect its cancer services.

It had more than 200 inpatients with Covid at that time, but that number has dropped to just 17, including five who are in intensive care, Ms Brown said.

“We’re very proud of the work we’ve been able to deliver here in terms of our cancer work,” she said. “We feel that we have recovered quite well.

“But we absolutely recognise our need to recover both in serving the elective population of our team, but also, more importantly about our staff and how we support those individuals as well.”

Ms Brown said the trust was using a framework to plan to manage a “significant backlog” across some services – mainly orthopaedics, spinal work and gynaecology – while also recognising the stress that staff had been under.

The trust’s ‘renew and recover’ plan covers the next two to three years.

Words: Amanda Cameron, Local Democracy Reporter


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