This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

All non-urgent elective care 'deferred until mid-January'

NHS trusts have been told to put emergency measures in place to defer all non urgent in-patient elective care 'until mid-January'.

NHS England says the move will 'ensure beds and staff are available for the sickest patients'. 

Bosses said this was 'usual practice in previous years' and by acting early trusts can 'avoid last minute cancellations that can be costly and inconvenient for patients'.

It also recommended that routine follow-up clinics were converted into ‘hot clinics’ providing specialist care to patients referred by GPs to take pressure off of A&E units, for example, for respiratory conditions which peak in winter.

It also said that urgent GP appointments will be planned available over the holiday period.

National medical director Sir Bruce Keogh said: 'NHS staff are working flat out to cope with seasonal pressures and ensure patients receive the best possible care. However, given the scale of the challenge, hospitals should be planning for the surge that comes in the New Year by freeing up beds and staff where they can to care for our sickest patients. 

'This will also reduce last minute cancellations which are unfair to patients and their families. Patients deserve as much notice as possible if their non-urgent treatment is delayed and I hope that they will bear with us during this testing time for the health service.'


Readers' comments (9)

  • Hold the presses! 21st December 2017 DOH discovers unexpected secular and religious holiday period and previously unheard of bank holidays!*

    *Except for all managers who have already configured their NHS email to let everyone know they will be out of office from 12:00 on 22/12/2017 until 2nd January 2018 - any issues contact your GP.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • National Hopeless Service

    Can look forwards to a barrage of 'can you re-refer this patient' letters in February/March then because the 18 week target wasn't met and the patient magically DNA'd the appointment that they never received a letter for. Am I cynical??

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Usual practice in previous years? Why have I never noticed it or even heard it spoken of before? And why do I have an unbidden image of Winston Smith sitting in his office in the Ministry of Truth altering the old newspapers?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • AlanAlmond

    So the assumption is that ‘routine follow up appointments’ are for trivial issues that can wait? This is not the case (obviously). Today’s untreated arrhythmia/renal disease/neurological anomaly is tomorrows 999 ambulance call/ a&e admission. So we’re expected to accept its ‘ok’ and ‘normal’ for a developed county’s health service to close in mid winter and only offer an emergency service? Adequately funded? Appropriately managed? Mr Hunt - longest serving health secretary ever - doing a great job?? This news splashed all over the front page of the daily Telegraph? WHY NOT?!!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • David Banner

    Given that the Winter bed crisis has been an annual event for decades, why on earth did they allow "non-urgent" cases to be booked in the first place? If they had blocked out all booked appointments from mid Dec to mid Jan a year ago, we wouldn't have the chaos that these cancellations will cause. Disgraceful.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Vinci Ho

    This is the social norm now .
    The government and its health secretary simply should come out to face the public and say there will be no elective activities in certain months if the year from now on.
    Of course , whether it can withstand the political pressure for this ‘honesty’ is another matter . The truth is as ugly as the the government facing defeat in parliament for EU withdrawal legislations or the PM’s loss of her closest ally, the First Secretary of State through a scandal.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • A small digression and thought for the day:
    ' A young lady is 'languishing in prison in Egypt and her mnetal health is in serious jeopardy'. All around the media have been clamouring for help.
    No one, I repeat - NO ONE- has questioned where the 290 tablets of Tramdol came from!
    Were they prescribed to this young lady for pain and she is on benefits because of a chronic condition; were they bought in the open market. Were they unused medication which somebody had been collecting for a friend in a foreign land?
    Whatever the answer, it begs an explanation and the scale of this siphoning abroad medicines at the cost of the UK taxpayer.
    My sympathies for the lady but a wrong was done and at times, repercussions can be catastrophic.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Unscepted. The tramadol is likely to be prescribed for things that cannot be proved like fibromyalgia and to stop the GP getting complaints or being sued for devastating her life leaving her in pain, leading to her not being able to work, relationship breakdowns etc. Until doctors are supported, I cannot see the abuse ending.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • exactly, this abuse will carry on and most of us will realistically practice defensively.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say