The Daily Telegraph
NHS hospital and GP appointments to go ahead ‘where possible’ on bank holiday
‘NHS staff will do everything they can to ensure every patient has the chance to pay their respects’
THE NHS has hit back at criticism of bank holiday closures, with health chiefs insisting that appointments will go ahead wherever possible.
Officials said that hundreds of thousands of staff will be working on Monday, with many “going the extra mile” to ensure patients can pay their respects to the late Queen.
Extra TV screens will be put up in wards, atriums and other public space in hospitals across the country, while hospital radio stations will broadcast the service, NHS England said.
It comes amid criticism of the decision to cancel thousands of hospital and GP appointments, including those on cancer, cardiology and maternity units, because of the bank holiday.
Palace sources have insisted they wanted “minimum disruption” to the public, with no blanket instruction to close services or events.
Guidance from NHS England has instructed hospitals to contact patients to tell them if appointments have been postponed or will go ahead. Some major hospitals have said they will postpone “the vast majority” of non-urgent cases.
Others – including major cancer centres – have said they expect services to operate “as usual”. Many GP practices will close their doors, with patients forced to contact “out-of-hours” services if they have urgent needs.
A number of medics have said they wanted to work, but were unable to, with clinics closed as staff had to look after children who will be off school.
Senior NHS figures have said consultations would go ahead whenever possible and that health service staff would ensure that patients in hospital will be able to watch the state funeral.
Some NHS trusts will open condolence books, or use digital devices so patients can sign remotely.
Dame Ruth May, chief nursing officer for England, said: “As the country rightly pauses to mark Queen Elizabeth II passing, hundreds of thousands of healthcare workers including nurses, clinicians, porters and other staff working in hospitals and our communities in England will ensure patients can also pay their respects.”
Officials said: “Patients will continue to be able to access and urgent and emergency treatment and existing appointments – for anything from elective surgery through to routine followup appointments – will go ahead where possible.”
Dame Ruth said: “From staff going the extra mile to help patients sign the online book of condolence, through to hospital chaplains conducting remembrance services, NHS staff will do everything they can to ensure every patient has the chance to pay their respects.”
She said the public should use the usual routes for care on the bank holiday, with urgent GP and dental appointments available, through 111 online, and 999 to be used for emergencies.