The BOA is aware of media reports regarding hospitals in England that are considering disrupting elective surgery due to challenges of the second wave of COVID. We are urging trusts to continue planned operations wherever it is possible to do so and for as long as it is possible to do so, but we recognise that in some areas very difficult decisions are having to be made. During the first wave we supported the principle that non-urgent services needed to be suspended in order to deal with the pandemic as it emerged; however, further suspensions to surgery will have serious consequences for the patients awaiting surgery and we urge decision-makers to consider all options in order to maintain routine services through the weeks and months ahead. Where surgery is to be cancelled we urge hospitals to ensure that this is for the shortest possible time.
At the end of August, there were almost two hundred thousand people (exact number: 197,663) in England awaiting admission for much needed orthopaedic surgery, and average waiting times were at their longest for many years. Patients on these waiting lists have typically been living with very significant pain and increasing mobility problems for many months, and sometimes years. With surgery only just getting started after the suspension earlier in the year and orthopaedics undertaking less than 50% of normal levels of surgery in August, further suspensions on operating will be a significant setback in tackling the growing waiting list.