More than 1,500 NHS breast reconstructions delayed due to COVID
BAPRAS President Elect Ruth Waters had the following to say:
“Delays in access to reconstructive surgery for breast cancer patients are a major cause of concern. For those women who decide to undergo breast reconstruction, this is an extremely important part of their cancer treatment which can have a significant impact on their mental wellbeing and quality of life.
“During the peak of COVID-19, breast reconstruction was halted as staff and theatres responded to the crisis. We are now in a position where relatively few beds are needed for COVID-19 patients and most staff can return to their normal roles, however, we are finding that access to operating theatres remains very restricted. We have developed protocols and procedures to enable elective surgery to be performed safely, but most units that normally perform breast reconstruction report that they are restricted to activity at 20–50% of pre-COVID-19 levels. This means we remain unable to provide a full service for women having mastectomies now, and those who were already on a waiting list have little hope of being given a date in the near future.
“Sadly, the de-prioritisation of breast reconstruction is not a new issue. Even prior to COVID-19, women in the UK faced huge variation in access to these procedures, with inconsistent guidelines around timeframes and eligibility.
“The British Association for Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons has developed detailed guidance to enable hospitals to re-start reconstructive procedures and is urging the government to introduce extra measures to reduce the backlog for all surgical procedures as a matter of urgency.”
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