Leading surgeon warns resumption of elective surgery will depend on adherence to lockdown rules

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14 Jan 2021


A leading surgeon is urging members of the public to stick to the latest lockdown guidelines as strictly as possible in a bid to get control of the virus and to allow elective surgery to get back up and running. 

Professor Michael Griffin OBE, President of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, believes the next eight weeks are crucial in weathering the current surge of the virus, but that the UK should be in a better position by spring, provided the current advice to stay at home wherever possible is closely followed. 

Professor Griffin said:

The next two months are going to be incredibly difficult, but if we all knuckle down and play our part in curbing the spread of the virus, we can prevent our health service from becoming overwhelmed such that vital surgical work which is currently on hold will be able to resume sooner rather than later. 

Many surgeons have been working on the front line over the last ten months, putting their health and lives at risk in order to help with the response to the pandemic, by taking on a whole host of other duties within their hospitals. While they are more than happy to help in any way they can, they are desperate to get back to their normal role of performing operations, as they know exactly what the delay waiting for these procedures can have on patients. 

We know that almost 50% of cancer surgery has now been cancelled in London as a result of the pressure on its hospitals, and we expect this extremely worrying situation to spread across large parts of the UK as COVID cases and hospitalisations continue to rise. 

The majority of non-urgent surgery is currently suspended all over the UK, and the surgical waiting lists continues to grow.  The sooner we can get this virus under control, the sooner surgeons will be able to resume their surgical work and start to clear this backlog.  However, this all hinges on each of us following lockdown rules. 

Minimising our social contact is the most effective way of stopping the spread of the virus. We need to stop and think before every single interaction we have outside of our own household, and consider whether it is absolutely essential or not.

I appreciate that this is an extremely difficult time for so many, but the end is now in sight as the rollout of the vaccination programme progresses, so if we all steel ourselves and follow the guidance to the letter, we can look after our NHS and ultimately help surgery get back on track.

To find out more about the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, go to www.rcsed.ac.uk.


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