The COVID 19 pandemic has had a huge impact on elective ENT surgical procedures which often relate to conditions affecting quality of life. ENT surgeons have been variously redeployed to the Nightingale hospital or based at their home unit providing urgent consultations and procedures on a face to face basis and virtual clinic appointments for more routine cases. The Ulster Independent Clinic (UIC) has been contracted to the NHS during the pandemic with limited access for private patients to those with urgent conditions during this time. From the start of July, the board have approved recommencing elective surgical procedures for paid or insured patients at UIC, even though some hospital trusts are still only providing urgent or red flag procedures.
Outpatient clinic consultations will be provided remotely if possible, to reduce footfall and enable social distancing to occur.
Despite the low community prevalence of COVID 19 in Northern Ireland we are taking some extra pre-operative precautions which will involve isolation for a child and one parent for seven days and COVID-19 testing before surgery. Part of the consent procedure will include a discussion around increased risks of procedures during the pandemic. Theatre lists have been impacted due to cancellations and pent-up demand for theatre space with reduced caseload due to restrictions in theatre related to aerosolization of the virus.