The closure of operating theatres to all non-urgent procedures until September is nothing to do with covid, the Health Minister has confirmed - with retirements and holidays the key causes.
In total, the hospital is currently down 17 operating theatre staff members, Deputy Renouf confirmed yesterday.
Last week, Express reported that some elective surgery procedures had been been cancelled due to staff shortages in the hospital’s theatre suite.
During a grilling in the States Assembly yesterday afternoon, Deputy Richard Renouf said: “The recent cancelled operations within the General Hospital are specifically a result of theatre staffing issues and they are not related to the availability of hospital beds or ward-based staffing.
“This is because five staff members have recently retired, one staff member has relocated to the UK for family reasons, one member of staff gained promotion and was moved internally within Health and Community Services, and one trainee assistant practitioner decided to stand down.
“There are currently nine theatre staff on annual leave, which is standard allocation. If we were to say that they should not take leave, that would disrupt the service at a later part of the year. This is an operational decision to deal with a temporary situation."
Pictured: Five theatre staff recently retired, one moved to the UK, one was promoted, one stood down, and nine are on annual leave, according to the Health Minister.
He continued: “Our hospital is coping with covid pressures at the moment and the theatre closures is not solely related to covid but is more so related to other absences that have come together, such as retirements and the like.
“It is not a consequence of covid that has caused this temporary closure of theatres.”
Deputy Renouf said that theatres had only been open to ‘emergency’ cases in the first week of the temporary closure but they had also opened up to ‘urgent’ cases in the second week. All routine procedures were postponed until September.
He also revealed that there were currently 16 positive cases among Health’s 2,400 staff - all of whom are being regularly screened for the virus - and another 11 were isolating as direct contacts.
In total, 38 staff were listed as absent for covid-related reasons, although most of these were due to having to support a family member who was a positive case or isolating. This equates to 1.5% of Health’s workforce being off for a covid-related reason.
“All of these staff have wellbeing checks and are offered one-to-one counselling,” he added.
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