Huge backlog in operations building due to lack of PPE and staff testing

A lack of vital protective equipment and long waits for coronavirus test results are stopping hospitals from tackling a huge backlog in operations, a key NHS leader is warning. Patients whose surgery has been postponed because of the pandemic face even longer delays because hospitals are having to wait for as long as 13 days for the outcome of tests, Chris Hopson told the Guardian. That along with ongoing shortages of the sterile gowns that operating theatre teams needed to perform surgery safely remained “major obstacles” to the NHS’s reopening, added Hopson. “My concern about reopening the NHS is that people are massively underestimating how difficult and complex it’s going to be to restart the full range of services and levels of activity that are needed. Hospitals cannot do that until doctors and nurses can have regular tests for coronavirus and get the results back very quickly, to prevent asymptomatic staff – or patients arriving for an operation – inadvertently bringing the virus in with them, added Hopson. In pointed criticism of ministers, he said: “The gap between the tone and content of the government’s statements on testing and the difficult reality on the ground is painfully wide and needs to be closed quickly. “It’s particularly unfair to ask a patient whose operation has already been delayed to start the difficult process of isolation without being certain that they can actually perform the surgery when the due date arrives.” NHS England bosses are understood to be sympathetic to Hopson’s concerns and share what he called hospital bosses’ “deep frustration” at ministers’ failure to solve either problem. “It would be premature and inadvisable to attempt a return to ‘business as usual’ before the testing regime is operating effectively and accurately in all parts of the country and significantly increased supplies of PPE can be guaranteed to protect staff and patients.