Three large hospitals in Cornwall have suspended all routine and urgent surgeries due to pressures from Covid.
Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust’s medical director Dr Allister Grant said a large proportion of patients did not know they had the virus as they sought care for other medical issues.
The change applies to the Royal Cornwall in Truro, St Michael’s in Hayle and West Cornwall in Penzance.
More than 40 of their patients are Covid-19 positive and a further 50 are close contacts and need to be isolated.
Dr Grant said there has been ‘no let-up’ for staff who are working ‘flexibly and extraordinarily hard to help us care safely for the higher numbers of people in hospital with Covid’.
He said: ‘With Covid-related admissions remaining high and health and care services in Cornwall under continued pressure, we’ve taken the difficult decision to temporarily suspend planned routine and urgent surgery at our main hospitals, so our clinical teams can care for people needing emergency admission.’
He added: ‘A large proportion of the patients admitted for other medical problems or injuries have been unaware they have Covid until tested on admission and need to be cared for in separate areas to other patients.’
He hopes the trust’s trio of hospitals are currently seeing their ‘peak’ levels of Covid admissions.
Critical surgery is continuing for cardiology and cancer patients and anyone with limb, sight or life-saving needs, Dr Grant said.
Some other operations may be held at the private Duchy Hospital in Truro, he added.
Dr Grant said: ‘Our pressures are compounded by the unprecedented demand on the ambulance service, the severity of illness of those needing emergency admission, and more than 100 people in our three hospitals who are ready to leave but are in need of care or support packages.
‘Both residents and holidaymakers can really help us, help them by making sure they choose the right services when it’s not a 999 emergency.
‘By calling their own GP first or contacting 111, we will be able to concentrate on those in most need of specialist care and help us get ambulance crews back on the road.’
Nationally, 6,831 people were admitted to hospital with Covid in the past week.
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