Covid: unnecessary precautions causing NHS surgery backlog

Exclusive: study finds insertion of breathing tube produces barely any aerosols

Thousands of patients may be facing unnecessary long waiting times for surgery because of a misplaced assumption about the Covid-19 risk posed to healthcare staff by a routine procedure, a study has found.

For months, operating theatres have been running at reduced capacity, leading to some of the longest waiting lists for surgery since records began. A major reason has been the introduction of precautions to protect against the airborne transmission of coronavirus via tiny droplets called aerosols during the insertion and removal of the breathing tube that is placed in patients’ airways while they are under general anaesthesia.

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