Hospitals in England have been allowed to ease some of the Covid-19 infection control measures to address the backlog issue.
Recommended by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), the changes are intended to ease the burden on the NHS.
As per the recommendations, hospitals can go back to regular cleaning procedures in areas with patients of low risk; drop the testing and isolation of those patients who are fully vaccinated, show no symptoms and have a negative lateral flow test prior to their planned operations; and reduce the social distancing from 2m to 1m in non-emergency departments in line with WHO guidelines.
About 5.6 million people in England are waiting for treatment and hundreds of thousands have been waiting for more than a year.
The relaxation of Covid-19 measures, which have been in place since the pandemic began, enables doctors to see more patients in need of care.
The Covid-19 measures were implemented to protect staff, patients and visitors from coronavirus.
UK Health and Social Care secretary Sajid Javid was quoted by BBC as saying: “As ever more people benefit from the protection of our phenomenal vaccination campaign, we can now safely begin to relieve some of the most stringent infection controls where they are no longer necessary, to benefit patients and ease the burden on hardworking NHS staff.”
The UK Health Security Agency advised the hospitals to continue following the current guidance on wearing of personal protective equipment.