• Leeds Teaching Hospitals FT set to curtail electives
  • Trust has now entered its surge capacity following covid admissions rise
  • Several trusts in the region now cancelling electives
  • Airedale FT also announces cancellations on Tuesday

One of the biggest hospital trusts in England will imminently cancel some elective operations, as covid-19 admissions rise steeply in Yorkshire,HSJ understands.

Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust has now entered its covid “surge” capacity — meaning the repurposing of additional beds — and will cancel some routine surgical lists from tomorrow (Wednesday 28 October), well placed sources toldHSJ.

The trust, which later confirmed the news, said it now has more covid-19 patients in its hospitals than at the peak of the pandemic in mid-April and it expects the number of people in critical care to increase over the next 48 hours. 

Only essential operations will be going ahead in most cases, with elective inpatient orthopaedics stopped completely at the trust’s Chapel Allerton Hospital. The trust has also begun closing theatres to boost critical care capacity. The trust said it expects this to continue “throughout the week”.

On Tuesday 27 October, Leeds Teaching Hospitals had 263 covid patients, which was up from 148 on the same day last week. The trust currently has 22 covid patients in intensive care. 

Leaders at the trust  — the fourth largest in England in terms of its total beds — have told some staff that they expect pressures may last for longer than the spring peak, HSJ understands. 

Another local NHS source said LTH had been “swamped” and said cases had “really surged in the last week or so”.

A spokeswoman for the trust said: ”Not only is the number of covid cases increasing but so is the rate of increase. Local modelling based on prevalence data indicates that it may continue to rise for the next two weeks

“The majority of admissions over the weekend has been older people with respiratory conditions. The infection rate for over-59s has increased from 165 per 100,000 last Saturday to 269 per 100,000. Our current overall bed occupancy is far greater than in the first wave so there is very significant pressure on our inpatient capacity. 

”We are standing down some planned operations due to current pressures which means that some patients will have their treatment postponed; only essential operations are going ahead in most cases. We have stopped elective inpatient orthopaedics at Chapel Allerton completely and we have begun a rolling programme of theatre closures to increase critical care capacity.

”We expect this to continue throughout the week, which means some difficult decisions as we prioritise cases of higher urgency. We are prioritising urgent treatments, including cancer operations.”

There are signs of steep rises in covid pressure in both West Yorkshire, where LTH is the largest trust, and in South Yorkshire in recent days and weeks. Figures published by NHS England show rapid increases in the Yorkshire and North East region in recent days; and detailed figures to 20 October show the share of hospital beds taken by covid patients rising steeply.

Airedale FT has told HSJ today that it will also postpone any elective surgery requiring an overnight stay for the next two weeks. A spokeswoman for the trust said: ”We are seeing increasing demand on the hospital which is in turn meaning that our inpatient beds are at capacity.

”Urgent and emergency cases and cancer surgery will be carrying on as normal. Our day case activity will also continue for now, with our teams ensuring we’re working on the basis of clinical priority.”

The total number of covid patients in hospital was set to pass the spring peak in South Yorkshire, something already passed in Lancashire and Liverpool in the North West. 

Doncaster and Bassetlaw hospitals have seen admissions double in a week, they have said.

Several trusts in the region have cancelled elective surgery in recent days.

Mid Yorkshire Hosptals Trust announced yesterday it had closed three operating theatres to free up staff to care for critically ill covid-19 patients.

Last week, HSJ reported that Rotherham Foundation Trsut had suspended non-urgent operations, and that Bradford Teaching Hospitals FT suspended some non-urgent surgery and outpatient appointments for two weeks from 20 October.

Chesterfield Royal Hospital FT, which is in Derbyshire, close to the Yorkshire border, has postponed two elective lists per day – a mixture of orthopaedic and general surgery – since Friday 23 October, it said.

Leeds Teaching Hospitals FT has been approached for comment.

Updated at 2.40pm 27 October to state that the trust has more covid patients in its beds than it did in the spring peak, and remove a reference to staff being told that this peak may be smaller, at 4:59pm to include trust statement, and at 5:11pm to include a statement by Airedale FT. 

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