Hospital appointments and non-urgent operations could be postponed

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Professor Keith Willett, director of acute care for NHS England, said that the delay of non-urgent operations was not a crisis and added the NHS in England was reacting to concerns from doctors and nurses over a rise in flu incidents, as well as predicted cold weather.

"If people do come to A&E and it is not an emergency they will have a long wait as we will prioritise the sickest patients".

And John Kell, head of policy at the Patients Association, said that the advice indicates how hard the NHS is being hit by winter pressures this year.

These would be reallocated to allow for triage by consultants on arrival at accidental and emergency departments, and make consultants available to advise general practitioners by phone.

This will mean that senior hospital doctors can triage more patients in A&E, be available for phone advice for Global Positioning System and ensure that patients in hospitals are reviewed twice each day to help timely discharges.

The MP for South West Surrey also paid tribute to the NHS staff working in "very tough conditions".

Not all of these were due to winter pressures or bed capacity. Officials confirmed that cancer operations and time-critical procedures should go ahead as planned.

NHS England has even given the green light for hospitals to put patients in mixed sex wards if they must.

"We expect these pressures to continue and there are early signs of increased flu prevalence", he explained.

That is why we are making these further recommendations today.

Scottish Health Secretary Shona Robison said: "Our NHS and community health service do a fantastic job all year round but there is no doubt that winter can bring additional demands, and I'd like to thank them once again for the dedication they have shown during this busy winter period".

The current crisis has seen an unprecedented number of health professionals speaking out, as they have a professional duty to do so, about the threat to patient care.

I have been in our local hospitals recently and seen elderly and vulnerable people waiting on trolleys. When patients are in crowded emergency departments and staff can not actually move between patients and provide the basic level of care that's required, then safety is compromised.

A spokesperson for the East and North Herts NHS Trust told BOB fm: "The Trust very much appreciates everyone's patience and understanding in helping our staff to provide good quality care for patients, especially those arriving as emergencies".

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