Surgeries, hospital and GP appointments cancelled on Monday due to Queen’s funeral bank holiday
Thousands of hospital and GP appointments across the country are being cancelled due to the Queen’s state funeral on Monday 19 September.
Many hospitals are set to postpone outpatient appointments and some planned operations due to reduced staffing, as the date has been declared a bank holiday. Most GP surgeries are also set to close.
Hospital appointment cancellations vary depending on the NHS trust, with one GP also saying that it “has not been an easy decision” to close doctors surgeries.
NationalWorld contacted a number of major trusts across the country to see whether they were cancelling operations and appointments.
NHS Greater Manchester Integrated Care Trust said that appointments and procedures were being rescheduled, but planned surgery for urgent cases was set to go ahead.
Steve Dixon, chief delivery officer, said: “We’re working with NHS organisations in Greater Manchester, as in other parts of the country, to understand the impact on services following the announcement of Monday 19 September as a bank holiday to mark the funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
“Affected patients will be contacted by telephone or post to reschedule their hospital appointment or procedure as soon as possible.
“Planned surgery for urgent cases is expected to go ahead. If you don’t hear anything, please attend as normal. Please bear in mind that reduced services on public transport may impact on journeys.”
Mr Dixon said that the trust realises this “may be worrying for those waiting for hospital care”, but the While You Wait website has details of extra support and advice on how to manage physical and mental wellbeing.
Emergency care services in the trust will remain open for the bank holiday and NHS 111 is there for anyone who is feeling unwell, he added.
A spokesperson for St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “Many of our staff will continue to work on the bank holiday, emergency care will continue as normal and we will continue to prioritise cancer and urgent procedures.”
However, some planned care will be rescheduled and patients are encouraged to restock or reorder repeat prescriptions, as required, ahead of the bank holiday.
Barts Health NHS Trust said there are no plans to suspend surgery and it is asking patients to attend the hospitals if they have an appointment, or to let the clinical teams know if they are unable to attend.
The hospitals within this trust will also be running a special Bank Holiday service on Monday 19 September in recognition of the Queen’s state funeral.
Arrangements will also be made “to ensure high priority patients continue to be treated,” the trust said.
Elsewhere, Trudie Davies, chief operating officer at The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust said that after much consideration, “we have taken the decision to remain operational for Monday’s public bank holiday”.
Appointments and procedures will continue as planned at Pinderfields, Dewsbury and Pontefract hospitals, and in community services.
“If there are any circumstances where a clinic or appointment does need to be cancelled, patients will be contacted directly,” Ms Davies said.
If patients wish to rearrange their appointment, they are asked to contact the trust as soon as possible.
“We are extremely grateful for the support of our compassionate colleagues and healthcare partners who are making it possible for us to continue to provide the level of care that our patients deserve, whilst respecting the grieving process for our Queen,” Ms Davies added.
‘This bank holiday work adjustment has not been easy to organise’
Dr Layla McCay, director of policy at the NHS Confederation, said the NHS is “very familiar” with providing support for its patients every day of the year - including over public holidays - and primary, urgent and emergency care services in particular will still be available to the public “in a variety of ways” over the bank holiday.
She added that the bank holiday “could see some hospitals having to reschedule elements of their planned and non-urgent appointments based on local circumstances”, but where this does happen, local NHS services will “ensure this is communicated early and rebooked as soon as possible”.
If patients can no longer attend a scheduled appointment, including for an elective treatment or Covid-19 vaccine, it is “vital” that they make this known as soon as possible, Dr McCay said.
Different rates of payment are given to frontline health and care staff for working over bank holidays, with NHS leaders “awaiting confirmation from the Government that this additional cost will be compensated in full”, she added.
Some GP surgeries across the country will also be closing on 19 September, but Dr Shehla Imtiaz-Umer, a GP in Derby, said closing GP surgeries “has not been an easy decision”.
She said GP surgeries are aware of “the impact this will have on an overstretched NHS”, which currently has “the longest wait times since records began”.
Dr Imtiaz-Umer added that general practice has been “under huge pressure” due to “chronic underfunding, lack of staff and increased demand”, which has been accelerated because of the Covid pandemic and backlog in hospital systems.
“Practices have had to take on board NHS guidance regarding closing for the bank holiday for a period of national mourning to mark Her Majesty’s funeral,” she said.
“This bank holiday work adjustment has not been easy to organise at such pace in view of the current pressures we are facing.”
Dr Imtiaz-Umer noted that GP surgeries also have to consider the impact of school closures on their staff who have children, but are also entitled to a public holiday in the same way as everyone else.
She said patients have had their pre-booked appointments cancelled not just with their GPs but across the NHS, but doctors have “worked extremely hard” to reschedule these patients’ appointments at short notice in order to minimise disruption.
“Inevitably we have lost productivity - this is not something that GPs advocated for and we understand that is unfair on our patients, who have waited for their appointments. We are doing our best under very difficult circumstances,” added Dr Imtiaz-Umer
If patients do need urgent medical attention, then NHS 111 and out-of-hours GPs will remain open.