WINCHESTER health chiefs have started to postpone planned operations, it was announced today.

The surge in Covid-19 have forced managers to ease the pressure by delaying operations. The exact number has not been stated.

The number of admitted patients with Covid-19 has risen from 31 to 40 in the last week at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester and from 44 to 63 at Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital.

Today Alex Whitfield, chief executive, Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “As with the NHS across the south east, our trust is under increasing pressure due to a sharp rise in the number of people who have tested positive for Covid-19 who need hospital care. As such, we have had to make the difficult decision to start postponing some planned operations.

“This is being done in a phased way with as much as possible being maintained. However, over the coming days it is likely an increasing number of our patients will be affected. Those who are impacted by this decision will be contacted individually; those not contacted should continue to attend as normal.

“In the meantime, we encourage you all to continue to follow the guidelines and look after yourselves. Should you require medical assistance please contact the NHS 111 service, which will be able to provide you with any immediate care, should it be required.”

Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust provides hospital services to a population of approximately 570,000 people in Hampshire and parts of West Berkshire. It has around 6,000 staff and a turnover of £423million a year.