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Non urgent surgeries cancelled as PEH nears crisis point

Non urgent surgeries cancelled as PEH nears crisis point

Thursday 06 January 2022

Non urgent surgeries cancelled as PEH nears crisis point

Thursday 06 January 2022

Significant staffing pressures at Guernsey's Princess Elizabeth Hospital have led to a reduction in the number of elective and day patient surgeries being carried out so patient care can be prioritised.

The more transmissable Omicron variant of Covid-19 means increasing numbers of staff are having to isolate, with additional stress being placed on bank staff to cover those off sick.

While only two patients currently being treated in the COVID Critical Care Unit, there are seven patients in the non-COVID unit meaning that ward is at full capacity.

The two separate CCU wards both need the same level of staffing and a bed must be kept available for any day patient having surgery in case they need additional care afterwards. As the non-COVID CCU ward is full that level of care can't be safely delivered to any additional patients currently so hospital bosses said they had to stop day patient and elective surgeries "to maintain a safe level of care for patients in the CCU and across the inpatient wards at the PEH."

PEH Princess Elizabeth Hospital

Pictured: The decision has been made to reduce non urgent surgeries to ensure staffing levels can be maintained for patients needing a bed on the Critical Care Units.

In a statement, the Committee for Health and Social care warned the staffing pressures at the hospital are growing in severity, but that the decision to postpone some surgeries is likely to be a short term situation.

"The decision has been made to reduce elective surgery this week" said HSC in its statement. "Many elective procedures require a CCU bed to be available for immediate post-operative care."

"We continue to liaise with key medical and nursing leads across HSC and MSG to further assess our business continuity and resilience. Services are very stretched and whilst many UK NHS Trusts have declared critical incidents, HSC is not in this position but will constantly assess the changing scenario and respond appropriately."

Deputy Al Brouard

Pictured: Deputy Al Brouard, the President of the Committee for Health and Social Care.

No one from HSC or the PEH was available for interview today as all attention has been focused on maintaining current levels of patient care, and in ensuring safe levels of staffing across all wards. 

The hospital's Director of Operations, Dermot Mullins also issued a statement, acknowledging the disappointment some patients will be experiencing, but saying that this is the safest course of action for everyone. 

"As Dr Rabey has stated previously postponing elective surgery is not a decision that we take lightly. We know that it is extremely frustrating for patients who have been waiting for a procedure and have made arrangements with employers, family, and friends etc.

"However, it is essential that we maintain a safe level of care for all patients in the PEH which means often these tough decisions must be made. The impact of the current wave of Omicron has meant that bank/agency staff are already being used to cover isolation requirements for those staff who have COVID-19 or who are a close contact. This means we have fewer resources available to cover an already stretched healthcare system."

Mr Mullins is working with colleagues to minimise disruption across the Bailiwick's front line medical services, with regular appraisals of the staffing situations. He says this work is made more difficult if people don't follow the guidelines put in place to protect staff, patients and hospital services from covid-19, as happened this week when someone refused to share the results of their lateral flow test, which turned out to be positive. 


Pictured: Everyone going to the PEH is asked to do a lateral flow test first.

"Other parts of HSC operational areas are continuing to operate with lower levels of disruption but are assessing the situation on a daily basis and escalating challenges to service continuity as and when necessary.

"As always, we grateful for the support of our Bailiwick community and ask that anyone visiting the hospital or other HSC facilities carries out a lateral flow test
determine if they have COVID. Omicron is a very transmissible variant, and it is key that we do all we can to reduce our risk of cross infection especially in the hospital
setting. We have had one incident this week with someone who would not verify their LFT status and on testing was found to be positive. This puts the service at risk of transmitting the virus to patients or staff and ultimately put acute services under added pressure. Visiting will be kept under daily review and if similar incidents
increase the difficult decision of stopping visiting may be necessary."

Anyone visiting the Princess Elizabeth Hospital as a patient, staff member or visitor is asked to take a lateral flow test before doing so. The President of HSC, Deputy Al Brouard said this is imperative in keeping the hospital protected. 

"I am grateful to both HSC and MSG staff for their continued hard work balancing the impact of COVID-19 with a busy hospital that is also stretched due to seasonal winter pressures. In the meantime, I would like to reinforce the message that anyone attending any HSC facilities should carry out a lateral flow test before they arrive."

Pictured top: The Princess Elizabeth Hospital.

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