Greater Manchester hospitals have suspended non-urgent surgery and appointments after a surge in the number of coronavirus patients being treated.
Operations and appointments for cancer and other urgent conditions will continue, but other bookings will be paused from Monday, the Manchester Evening News reported.
It was understood senior hospital figures overseeing the acute system’s response to the pandemic agreed to the move earlier this week.
Greater Manchester’s Health and Social Care Partnership (GMHSCP) said anyone waiting for treatment who is not contacted by letter should assume their appointment will go ahead as planned, according to the MEN.
Rochdale Infirmary, a Covid-free site, along with specialist hospitals, will be exempted from the directive. The majority of outpatient services will also remain unaffected, it was reported.
A spokesperson for GMHSCP, which includes all NHS hospitals in the city region, told the MEN: “Our hospitals are now treating more Covid patients than at the peak of the first wave and as a result of this, a number of non-urgent operations will be temporarily delayed – we are contacting the affected patients.
“Urgent and emergency care, including cancer treatment and operations, will continue as normal and it’s important that anyone with concerns continues to come forward for help and treatment.
“This is why it’s so important that everyone follows guidance to minimise the spread of the virus – wear a face covering in enclosed spaces, wash your hands more frequently and minimise your contact with people outside your immediate household.”
According to the Manchester Evening News, the mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said he had never known the ambulance service see a major incident due to high demand during November of the kind it had seen on Monday. He warned this was “the first big sign of what is happening here in our hospitals and the challenge that colleagues are facing”.
Presenting the week’s coronavirus data for the region, Sir Richard Leese, the leader of Manchester city council, said he was “very concerned” about the pressures on the entire health system. “The signs are certainly very, very worrying,” he said.
A leaked NHS document last month showed Greater Manchester was set to run out of intensive care beds to treat people seriously ill with Covid-19, and some of those units in the region’s 12 hospitals are already full.
The resurgence of the disease had left the ICUs of hospitals in Salford, Stockport and Bolton at maximum capacity, with no spare beds to help with the growing influx.