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Safely restarting our services during COVID-19

During the COVID-19 pandemic we have continued to provide urgent care and treatments for our patients, although many of our more routine appointments and treatments have been postponed.

As we see fewer COVID-19 cases in our hospitals, we are planning to slowly restart many of the services that have been put on hold, although the way they are now running has been altered to accommodate social distancing measures.

In line with other NHS organisations, we will be scheduling patient's treatments in order of clinical priority.  However, patients will need to be prepared for longer waits than anticipated prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Orthopaedics is amongst the services that are gradually restarting.

Treatments and procedures have restarted at Spire Yale Hospital in Wrexham and surgeons are operating on the most urgent patients who are awaiting hip, knee, shoulder, hand and foot surgery.

Day case treatments have restarted at Abergele Hospital and are due to restart at Ysbyty Gwynedd in early September.

Clinical Director for Trauma and Orthopaedics and Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, Mr Bala Ramesh, said: “As COVID-19 is still circulating in our communities it is not possible to restore our services as normal.

“However, there are musculoskeletal conditions that need urgent surgical input, such as complex hand conditions, sports injuries and shoulder conditions.

“We have worked together to find the safest way possible to restart our services slowly and are prioritising our most urgent patients.

“We are pleased we can offer inpatient provision at Spire Yale Hospital and that operations have already restarted there during August.”

Urgent day case surgery is expected to restart in Ysbyty Gwynedd in early September with urgent elective surgery planned for the end of the month.

Clinical Lead for Orthopaedics at Ysbyty Gwynedd, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon Mr Haroon Mumtaz, said: “The safety of our patients is our main priority. We have been working together to find ways we can restart elective care whilst still living with COVID-19.

“We understand our patients will be concerned and we want to reassure them that they are not forgotten.

“We are looking forward to restarting our day cases which will be for our patients who need urgent upper and lower limb surgery with a view to providing elective inpatient surgery towards the end of the month.”

Surgeons from Wrexham Maelor Hospital started elective and day case surgery earlier this month at Spire Yale Hospital.

Clinical Lead for Orthopaedics at Wrexham Maelor Hospital, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon Mr Ian Starks, said: “We were pleased to begin our lists at Spire Yale Hospital earlier this month for our most urgent patients waiting for arthroplasty surgery and other urgent treatments.

“It is important we restart surgery in a safe manner during these uncertain times as we want to ensure our patients are safe when they come into hospital for their treatment.”

Dr Kate Clark, Secondary Care Medical Director for Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, said: “Although COVID-19 has caused significant disruption to our services we have continued to prioritise those patients across North Wales who are in need of the most urgent care, such as those who need cancer surgery.

“We are now beginning to slowly re-start some of our routine services that have been postponed during the pandemic.

“We have prioritised waiting lists so that we can offer patients access to treatments in order of clinical priority. However, some patients will experience longer waits to be seen for their treatment.

“It is important that we bring back our services where we can, but only where that can be done safely – the virus is still circulating and our priority is to keep our patients and staff as safe as possible.”

More information on how the Health Board is restarting services can be found here:

Please note – if you are having elective surgery at one of our hospitals, you will be given a COVID-19 test and then asked to self-isolate before your admission into hospital.

If there has been any change in your clinical condition, please contact your GP. 

If you have any further questions, please use the information provided on your appointment letter(s) to contact the relevant service. If you do not have access to this information please contact the Patient Advice and Liaison Service who will be able to help you.