Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust has announced the cancellation of planned operations after the Covid-19 crisis has continued to escalate.

Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust stressed on Thursday morning (December 24) that they are seeing "increased demand" at both of its main hospitals.

Therefore it has "taken the decision to cancel all routine planned operations for the time being, other than for cancer and endoscopy."

Covid-19 infection rates have been soaring in south east London for the past few weeks, as well as in neighbouring London boroughs and in Kent.

With the entire capital now in Tier 4, with restrictions in place over the entire Christmas break inhibiting households mixing, this is the latest sign of a surge in the virus.

News Shopper:

Whilst Covid inpatient numbers in Greenwich and Lewisham hospitals are still below the first wave in April, they are "on the rise."

Dr Elizabeth Aitken, Chief Medical Officer at the Trust, said: "Our staff are very busy at present caring for a high number of inpatients, including those with Covid-19. We need to ensure we are in a position to provide safe and effective care for those patients most in need.

“We understand how disappointing and frustrating it is to have your surgery cancelled, and we apologise sincerely for the inconvenience caused.

“We are working closely with the South East London Critical Care Network to manage a rise in admissions."

She added: "Covid inpatient numbers are still below the first wave in April, but they are on the rise, so everyone should continue to follow the national guidance to limit the spread of the virus - wash hands regularly, wear a face mask unless exempt and observe social distancing.”

The trust, which runs Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich and University Hospital Lewisham, said it has made the decision to "ensure we can continue to provide safe and effective care for those patients that need it."

Urgent and life saving surgery, and operations for those who have been waiting for longer than 80 weeks, will continue.

Most outpatient appointments and diagnostics (including MRI, CT, ultrasound, echocardiography and endoscopy) will go ahead as normal.

Teams will be contacting those patients affected by this decision, and the trust will rebook their treatments as soon as possible.

If you are not contacted, please attend our hospitals as planned.

The trust said it is reviewing the situation daily, and will re-start planned care as soon it is in a position to do so.