Top surgeon claims operators are only working once a fortnight because of NHS pressures and strikes

28 April 2023, 23:33

The UK's top surgeon has said surgeons want to perform operations but can't because of NHS pressures
The UK's top surgeon has said surgeons want to perform operations but can't because of NHS pressures. Picture: Alamy

By Chay Quinn

Surgeons are only carrying out one operation a fortnight, the UK's head surgeon has claimed.

Professor Neil Mortensen, president of the Royal College of Surgeons on England, revealed that NHS backlogs mean the high-level medics are reaching record low productivity.

He also claimed to the Telegraph that staff shortages and lack of operating theatre space has caused the lull.

Prof Mortensen told the newspaper that his surgeons tell him that: “I want to operate but because of the way things are organised I can only get in to do surgery one day every two weeks.”

Prof Mortensen added that patient safety issues caused by the strikes was “extremely concerning” to him.

It comes after Great Ormond Street announced it has declared an incident over "serious concerns" about how it will safely staff the children's hospital with nurses going on strike.

Chief executive Mat Shaw said children "have no voice in the debate" over pay and needed to be protected as he issued the alert.

The intervention comes a day after the head of People hold placards on a picket line outside Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital in London declared a critical incident
The intervention comes a day after the head of People hold placards on a picket line outside Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital in London declared a critical incident. Picture: Getty

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The Royal College of Nursing is striking from the evening of Sunday April 30 to the end of May 1, with GOSH saying the sheer volume of nurses going on strike has led it to fears for patients' safety.

GOSH worried it will also be hit by the National Education Union's industrial action between April 27 and May 2 2023.

Mr Shaw said on Friday: "We respect the right of our staff to take part in lawful industrial action, but after exhausting all options, at the moment we have serious concerns over how we will safely staff our hospital during the strike.

"There is nothing more important than the safety of our patients and so we have no choice but to declare a business continuity incident.

"These children have no voice in the debate and we must protect them. We urgently need safety exemptions for our intensive care units and other areas of the hospital."

The hospital has seen 4,300 fewer patients than normal during the junior doctors' and nurses' strikes - a 33% drop.

GOSH, Britain's largest paediatric centre, has tried to find alternative ways to accommodate the strikes safely, having discharged patients who can safely return home and explored if they could be sent to other hospitals.

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