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Kent trust forced to cancel non-urgent ops as ‘beast from the east’ bites

Medway NHS FT has been forced to cancel a number of non-urgent procedures this week as the freezing temperatures and icy conditions have caused a staffing shortage.

The trust, which primarily runs the Medway Maritime Hospital, says it has begun contacting patients who were scheduled to have operations to explain these “short-term changes.”

The decision to cancel operation comes as Britain is in the middle of an extreme period of cold weather, with snowy conditions and temperatures reaching as low as -12°C overnight.

Trust chief executive Leslie Dwyer said low staffing levels had been coupled with a high number of patients not able to turn up to operations because of difficulty travelling.

She explained: “With the difficulties in travelling, school closures and similar issues also having an impact on our staffing levels, we have taken the decision to cancel some of our non-urgent planned operations and outpatient appointments to ensure we can deploy our staff where they are needed most.”

Officials at the trust also said that anyone concerned about their own scheduled procedures should contact the hospital to ensure there had been no changes.

While non-urgent operations have been cancelled, Medway Maritime will continue to offer its full range of emergency and urgent care, as well as procedures for cancer patients and other urgent cases.

The news follows some of the most extreme winter pressures in NHS history over the Christmas period, with NHS England advising hospitals to enforce a nationwide ban on non-urgent operations, similar to Medway’s own policy.

Conditions became so poor that some hospitals were forced to use volunteer office staff to help with frontline services, as already low staffing levels were further impacted by poor transport options and an increase in the number of emergency patients.

Top images: Mark Reckless

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