Major English hospital cancels vital operations as Covid admissions rise

16 July 2021, 15:03 | Updated: 16 July 2021, 15:26

Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham has cancelled dozens of operations at the last minute as Covid patients filled up the ICU wards.
Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham has cancelled dozens of operations at the last minute as Covid patients filled up the ICU wards. Picture: PA

By Joe Cook

Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham has announced that all elective operations have been cancelled for 48 hours due to a shortage of intensive care beds, as Covid admissions rise.

Dozens of elective surgeries scheduled to happen on Thursday or Friday - including life saving liver transplants - were cancelled as the ICU was full to capacity.

The hospital has urged locals to get a Covid jab as cases and hospital admissions rise.

A spokesperson for University Hospitals Birmingham Trust said the cancelling and rescheduling of operations was forced "as a result of the number of very sick patients requiring emergency care".

"This is also contributed to by increasing numbers of inpatients with Covid requiring critical care," they explained.

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The number of Covid-19 patients in hospitals run by the trust increased to 166 on Friday, up 50 percent from Monday.

Of these, 30 were in intensive care as of Friday, up from 19 on Monday.

While bed shortages are reportedly the major factor behind the cancelling of operations, as of Thursday 1,091 staff were also absent, of which 275 were either self-isolating or had Covid-19.

Cancer surgeries at another Birmingham hospital run by the same trust have already postponed, according to The Independent.

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The news of another major hospital suspending operations comes after senior doctors this week warned Boris Johnson against lifting lockdown on Monday.

The British Medical Association (BMA) warned of "potentially devastating consequences" if all measures are eased as planned.

"The BMA has repeatedly warned of the rapidly rising infection rate and the crippling impact that Covid-related hospitalisations continue to have on the NHS, not only pushing staff to the brink of collapse but also driving up already lengthy waiting times for elective care," BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said.

"The prime minister repeatedly emphasised the importance of a slow and cautious approach but, in reality, the government is throwing caution to the wind by scrapping all regulations in one fell swoop."

Read more: 'Irresponsible': Senior doctors condemn PM's 19 July lockdown easing

Ahead of 'Freedom Day' the latest data from the Office for National Statistics, released Friday, has estimated one in every 95 people in England had Covid-19 in the last week.

This is the highest number since the week to February 6 and the percentage of adults testing positive is estimated to be rising in all regions.

Speaking ahead of the latest data release, Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty warned the number of people in hospital with coronavirus could reach "quite scary" levels within weeks.

Prof Whitty said the UK is "not out of the woods yet", just hours after Boris Johnson declared it was "highly probable" the worst of the pandemic is over.