Routine operations could “cease for several months” if hospitals have to deal with a major flu outbreak this winter, an expert has warned.
Planned – or elective – operations such as knee or hip replacements could be put on the back burner if the NHS struggles to deal with the additional demands of a bad flu season, the Society for Acute Medicine (SAM) said.
The comments come as a separate poll found that more than nine in 10 health and care leaders across England are “concerned” about their organisation’s ability to cope this winter.
Dr Nick Scriven, president of SAM, which represents hospital doctors who look after patients admitted as an emergency who do not need surgery, said a bad flu season could “overwhelm” the NHS.
With the risk of flu this winter, vital for all NHS staff to get a flu jab. I’m doing my bit… pic.twitter.com/wTvwfW6lEM
— Jeremy Hunt (@Jeremy_Hunt) September 29, 2017
NHS England boss Simon Stevens last month warned hospitals to be prepared for a “pressurised” flu season following a heavy outbreak in the Southern Hemisphere during winter there.
Mr Stevens said the health service was reviewing the situation in Australia and New Zealand, where hospitals were forced to close their doors to new patients and people faced long waiting times.
But Dr Scriven said that despite talk of preparations, doctors on the frontline feel as though there is “nothing new other than crossed fingers”.
“Over the last two to three years we haven’t had to deal with any major outbreaks of infection such as norovirus or flu, but this year we are predicting a bad flu season that will overwhelm us after what we’ve witnessed in Australia and New Zealand,” he said.
Have a long term health condition? Ask your #GP if you’re eligible for a free flu jab. It’s free because you need it https://t.co/iYgrDnYbMmpic.twitter.com/HdJtNPrvnv
— NHS England (@NHSEngland) October 11, 2017
“For all the talk of preparations, on the ground it feels as though nothing’s new this year other than crossed fingers – which is fair comment as the government has failed to tackle effectively the issues behind the pressures we face.”
“If, as we expect, we see a flu outbreak, I think the NHS – in terms of both beds and clinical staff – will break far worse than last year and elective activity will almost certainly cease for several months.”
Meanwhile NHS Confederation surveyed 131 health leaders …
Source:: The Huffington Post – UK Lifestyle