Shropshire's orthopaedic hospital suspends routine surgery as staff redeployed due to pandemic

Routine surgery has been suspended at Shropshire's orthopaedic hospital until the end of the month, bosses have announced.

The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital
The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital

It comes as the NHS is currently under more pressure than at any stage in the pandemic so far.

In order to meet rising demand, all regions are implementing plans to increase critical care beds.

The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital, near Oswestry, has a number of staff trained and experienced in providing acute and critical care – and they are now being asked to work at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and Telford's Princess Royal Hospital until at least the end of the month.

As a result, a decision has been made to pause all planned routine surgery at RJAH immediately until the end of January.

Hospital bosses say much work will still carry on as it has in recent weeks.

This includes outpatient clinics – where staff are available, diagnostic clinics, bone cancer services, spinal emergency services, Midland Centre for Spinal Injuries and general medicine (Sheldon Ward).

Soaring cases

Mark Brandreth, chief executive of the trust, said: “We do not take lightly the decision to suspend some of our services, but we must respond to the difficult situation the NHS currently finds itself in as Covid-19 cases continue to soar.

“We are retaining as much of our regular activity as we can.

"Patients who are impacted by the measures we are putting in place today will be contacted directly.

“If you do not hear from us, then we would ask that you attend your appointment as planned.

“We apologise for any inconvenience caused, and ask that you understand the need to take these measures.

“We also ask everyone to stick to the rules in place during the current lockdown, which – along with the ongoing roll-out of the Covid vaccine – will help us to get this virus under tighter control."

Bosses at The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH), which runs PRH and RSH, said the number of Covid patients in its care had risen to 100 last week.

They said its hospitals will also be expected to take intensive care patients from other areas and anticipates being "full very soon".

Addressing SaTH's board about critical care on Thursday, Nigel Lee, chief operating officer, said the trust had been talking with regional colleagues and will be increasing the amount of capacity at both sites, but especially in Shrewsbury.

Stretched

Wrexham's Maelor Hospital has also suspended routine surgery as it deals with rising numbers of patients with coronavirus.

The hospital, which cares for people in Chirk and the Ceiriog Valley as well as the north Shropshire border, is dealing with the biggest rate of Covid in Wales.

Wrexham now has the highest rate of Covid-19 in Wales, with 897.3 cases per 100,000 of the population.

This is more than double the Welsh average.

Steve Stanaway, medical director at Wrexham Maelor Hospital, pleaded with people to abide by rules.

"The worry from a staff's point of view is how much more stretching can we take, how many more staff can we deploy?" he said.

"That's created more feelings of stress and anxiety, not least to the people who were hoping to get their surgery this week."

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