Thousands of patients have had hospital appointments cancelled because of the Queen’s funeral, openDemocracy can reveal.
Some NHS trusts have said that all non-urgent procedures and clinic appointments will be postponed, including hip and knee replacements, cataract surgery, maternity checks and some cancer treatments.
Many patients had been waiting months for surgery – only to have it cancelled a week beforehand. In a letter to one patient, the NHS blamed “unforeseen circumstances”.
Doctors at one central London hospital trust were told: “The day of the State Funeral will be treated as a bank holiday so please go ahead and start rescheduling patients.”
openDemocracy understands that non-urgent appointments have been cancelled across the UK as a result of the funeral, although NHS England said the decision was “for trusts to make locally”.
It follows the announcement that the UK will have a bank holiday on September 19 to mark the Queen’s funeral. But government guidelines says: “There is no statutory entitlement to time off,” adding that this is “a matter for discussion between individuals and their employer”.
The decision to cancel appointments comes as hospital waiting lists hit an all-time high: almost 6.8 million people were waiting for appointments at the end of July. More than 377,000 of these patients had been waiting for more than a year.
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