The NHS is in discussions with private healthcare groups to secure surgery for urgent cancer patients in London, as a result of widespread cancellations in the wake of the Covid-19 second wave, HSJ has reported.

A senior clinical manager in London is quoted as saying the cancellations are so widespread that only patients assessed as needing surgery within three days are currently being operated upon. The manager stated: “The independent sector has not opened up capacity and lifestyle operations [are] still planned [in private hospitals].”

Another senior clinical manager interviewed said that some progress has been made in recent weeks in securing additional capacity from the private sector, but it is “nowhere near as much as we need”.

President of the Royal College of Surgeons Professor Neil Mortensen said: “During the first wave of the pandemic, contracts between the NHS and the independent sector were a lifesaver for cancer patients. They enabled patients to be treated in a separate part of the hospital, or a different hospital altogether from where Covid patients were being treated. In order to maximise capacity in our NHS hospitals, and keep surgical patients safe, the NHS must continue these contracts with the independent sector.”

Date published: January 6, 2021

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