Cancer patients face surgery cancellations as Leeds hospitals "overwhelmed", leaked email reveals

Cancer patients in Leeds are facing having their surgeries cancelled as the city's hospitals are "overwhelmed" with coronavirus patients, a leaked email has revealed.

Wednesday, 7th July 2021, 3:15 pm

The email, sent to senior doctors at Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust, said that the city's hospitals have seen a "marked increase" in Covid admissionand that two of the Covid wards are now full, The Independent reports.

Consequently, it adds, hospitals are having to cancel surgery for patients who have "already waited too long".

The email, sent by the trust’s clinical directors, was leaked to The Independent by concerned staff on Wednesday, July 7.

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A leaked email has said that Leeds hospitals are "overwhelmed" by Covid patients, with cancer patients facing having their surgeries cancelled.
A leaked email has said that Leeds hospitals are "overwhelmed" by Covid patients, with cancer patients facing having their surgeries cancelled.

It states: “Four patients with cancer are about to be cancelled today with very difficult and upsetting conversations.

"In critical care we’ve had six extra admissions, from four to 10 just yesterday.

“It’s highly likely that we’ll need to open another Covid ward this week.

“We’ve got too many inpatients to manage this increase within [emergency specialty medicine] and the outlier numbers are very high – it’s affecting all our wards everywhere.”

It also described the trust’s emergency departments as being “overwhelmed”, The Independent reports, with 100 patients more than the usual average daily levels each day.

Patients are also described as facing eight-hour waits.

The email continued: "This is unmet need and cancelling surgery makes it worse.

“This is July – it is unprecedented for us to be in this position.”

Staff were asked to see what steps they can take to alienate pressure by reviewing patients to see if they can be safely discharged, the report said.

The email said: “The thinking is – if we all discharge one extra patient today then the elective patients will get their operations. We only need 15-20 extra beds. This must be possible and we need your expertise to do it.”

Dr Phil Wood, Chief Medical Officer at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “Along with the rest of the NHS we are seeing an increase in patients admitted to our hospitals with COVID-19.

“Our hospitals continue to be incredibly busy with significant demand for services right across the healthcare system in Leeds, including in our Emergency Departments.

“Drawing on experience from previous waves of the pandemic we are enacting plans to help us treat increased numbers of COVID admissions whilst still providing care to those patients waiting for scheduled operations.

“While every patient’s care is important to us, we have had to postpone some planned elective operations to ensure patients who require urgent treatment are prioritised. All our cancer patients are given personal treatment plans based on clinical evidence from combined teams of senior clinicians.

“We are constantly reviewing the situation and we are committed to achieving timely and safe care for all our patients.”

If people are unsure what help they need, the NHS is asking them to visit the 111 website, which will direct them to the right medical service for their needs.