Posted: Fri 13th Mar 2020

Non-urgent hospital appointments and routine surgery to be cancelled in Wales – First Minister says “we need your help” to fight Coronavirus for people living in or visiting the Wrexham area
This article is old - Published: Friday, Mar 13th, 2020

The Health Minister has announced all non-essential hospital procedures will be cancelled due to coronavirus pandemic, with the First Minister asking for the public to do their bit to help.

Health Minister Vaughan Gething said during a press conference this afternoon (Friday March 13 – full video below) Welsh Government was implementing a range of measures in a bid to protect front line medical services.

Stood alongside First Minister Mark Drakeford at the Cardiff press conference, Gething said Wales could see 20,000 deaths as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, adding “usually there are 8,000 to 10,000 deaths in Wales” due to flu and the 20,000 figure is on top of that.

He announced that from next week, emergency staff will be told to prioritise coronavirus prep and not to staff large events – a move in line with Scotland.

Mt Gething said: “As we move in our preparations from the “contain” to the “delay” phase of COVID-19, it is vital that our health and social care system in Wales is prepared.

“I have taken a number decisions today to ensure early and decisive action to continue to provide care and support to the most vulnerable people in our communities, whilst also making sure organisations and professionals are supported to make timely preparations for the expected increase in the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19.

“I am choosing to act now before we see a significant surge in demand so that our services can be ready to act. A larger number of people requiring high levels of care is highly likely over the coming weeks.”

“I have taken advice from professional colleagues, including NHS Chief Executives and Medical Directors to inform my decision to act now to ensure our preparations can be made in a planned and measured way.”

The Welsh Government has agreed a framework of actions, within which local health and social care providers can make decisions, they are:

> Suspend non-urgent outpatient appointments and ensure urgent appoints are prioritised
> Suspend non-urgent surgical admissions and procedures (whilst ensuring access for emergency and urgent surgery)
> Prioritise use of Non-Emergency Patient Transport Service to focus on hospital discharge and ambulance emergency response
> Expedite discharge of vulnerable patients from acute and community hospitals
> Relax targets and monitoring arrangements across the health and care system
> Minimise regulation requirements for health and care settings
> Fast track placements to care homes by suspending the current protocol which give to right to a choice of home
> Permission to cancel internal and professional events, including study leave, to free up staff for preparations.
> Relaxation of contract and monitoring arrangements for GPs and primary care practitioners.
> Suspend NHS emergency service and health volunteer support to mass gatherings and events

“These actions will allow for services and beds to be reallocated and for staff to be redeployed and retrained in priority areas.

Health boards and health care providers will begin to contact anyone affected by these decisions over the coming days as these actions are phased in. Access to cancer and other essential treatments such as renal dialysis for example will of course be maintained.

The NHS 111 online and telephone service is available and has been protecting our vital primary care and emergency department services from undue demand.

The key principle is to keep people safe and to keep patients out of clinical settings if there is no urgent need to attend.

The First Minister has also issued his own message to the people of Wales, “This is a fast-moving situation. In the last week, the number of people with coronavirus has risen steadily in the UK and hundreds of people are now receiving hospital treatment. We can expect to see many more cases in Wales.”

“We are working hard to slow the spread of the virus. We are working with the other UK governments to respond to the situation as it develops. We are relying on expert advice and using all the expertise we have developed in treating other infectious diseases and in planning for flu.”

“But we need your help.

“If you have a new continuous cough or high temperature, we are asking you to stay at home for seven days. This will help protect other people in the local community from becoming infected, especially older people, who are most at risk.”

“It is really important you stay at home while you have symptoms. For most, coronavirus will be mild but for some people it will cause a serious illness, which will need hospital treatment. Sadly, we know some people have died.”

“We may need to introduce other measures to protect people who are most at risk. All the decisions we take will be based on expert advice and we will let people know what’s happening.

“All overseas trips for students under 18 should be cancelled and people over 70 should not go on cruises, on the advice of the Foreign Office.”

“Expert advice does not support the closure of schools at the moment and we are not yet at the point of advising organisations to cancel or postpone events, but this may come.”

“We will take new powers for Wales from the UK-wide Coronavirus Bill, which will be introduced this week, to help our systems and services work more effectively to tackle this outbreak. All four governments have agreed a single piece of UK-wide legislation is the right approach in this circumstance.”

All the latest information about coronavirus is available on the Welsh Government website at and

The video of the press conference can be found below…

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