RCSEd responds to cancellation of elective surgery, lack of testing and concerns over NHS staff wellbeing

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10 Nov 2020

The continuing surge in serious COVID-19 cases means hospitals across the UK are likely to be dealing with as many, if not more, patients over the coming weeks as at the height of the pandemic in April.

Whilst we welcome the national initiatives being put in place, such as national monitoring of hospitals and diverting patients to places with spare capacity, our ongoing concerns over the cancellation of elective surgery, the continued lack of regular testing of NHS staff and the impacts that a second wave will have on highly stretched NHS resources sadly remain.

The failure to deal with these over the summer are now having unfortunate consequences. There has been little to no improvement in the regular testing of NHS staff and in parts of the Midlands and northern England, almost half of all staff absence has been linked to coronavirus. This has not only exasperated existing staff shortages but undermined attempts to create Covid light areas where diagnostics and urgent elective surgery can continue.

Moreover, we are highly concerned with the growing number of our Members and Fellows informing us anecdotally of incidences in which the anticipated second wave is being used to drive through unnecessary changes to degrade contracts, terms and conditions. This would be unwarranted in normal times, but is particularly uncalled for at this present time.

The pandemic should never be used as an excuse to enforce change. The NHS cannot safely provide essential and elective care unless staff are supported and appreciated, so the focus needs to be to support rather than needlessly alienate staff working tirelessly to provide the best possible patient care.


At the start of this pandemic the whole NHS pulled together to ensure that we were ready for the challenges we faced. We now need a similar effort to prepare for the long winter ahead.


About The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh

RCSEd was first incorporated as the Barber Surgeons of Edinburgh in 1505, and is based in Edinburgh and Birmingham. It is one of the oldest surgical corporations in the world with a worldwide membership of almost 29,000. The majority of our members practice across the UK, with 11,000 professionals based in England and Wales. The College also has a significant global presence with 11,000 members in over 100 countries worldwide. 

The College promotes the highest standards of surgical and dental practice through education, training and examinations, its liaison with external medical bodies and representation of the modern surgical and dental workforce. It is also home to the UK’s only Faculty of Surgical Trainers, open to all those with an interest in surgical training regardless of College affiliation.

Find RCSEd here www.rcsed.ac.uk, on Twitter www.twitter.com/RCSEd, on Facebook www.facebook.com/rcsed and Instagram https://www.instagram.com/RCSEd/


Issued by Beattie on behalf of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. For further information, please contact the team on rcsed@beattiegroup.com or Emma Bain on 07730 415 096.   

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