New guide to help vascular teams resume surgery past the COVID-19 peak

Image showing vascular system

Guidance on resuming vascular surgery in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic has been issued by the national body for joint working in vascular services across England.

The National Joint Vascular Implementation (NJVI) Board, which is chaired by Getting It Right First Time (GIRFT) clinical lead Professor Mike Horrocks and Dr Michael Gregory, NHS England’s clinical lead for vascular, worked quickly to issue the guidance to support frontline vascular clinicians and inform the work of commissioners within NHS England and NHS Improvement and CCGs as units look to restart a more normal vascular service in the future.

Guidance on resumption of vascular surgery follows a special meeting of the NJVI board to bring together views from GIRFT, the Vascular Clinical Reference Group and professional societies including the Vascular Society of Great Britain and Ireland, Society of Interventional Radiologists, Society of Vascular Technologists, Society of Vascular Anaesthetists and Society of Vascular Nurses.

At the peak of the pandemic, the Vascular Society issued guidance to restrict surgery, to help reduce unnecessary exposure to hospitals, defer less urgent cases and reduce length of stay and dependency on intensive care units.

The service has since seen a reduction in referrals as well as patients presenting late, due to a reluctance to attend hospital. These and other concerns are taken into account in the guidance, which includes advice on:

  • Defined pathways for inpatients;
  • Developing technology to support remote consultation;
  • Testing protocols for COVID-19;
  • Reviewing radiology arrangements to reduce risk;
  • Restarting abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) screening;
  • Thresholds for intervention for screen-detected patients.

The guidance can be found on the Vascular Society website here.

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