YORK Hospital is drawing up plans to resume non-coronavirus urgent services in the coming weeks.

A spokeswoman for York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said it previously suspended planned operations and appointments in response to national guidance issued to all hospitals at the start of the pandemic.

She said this was to ensure it would have as many beds available as possible to care for patients with Covid-19 when the number of cases reached its peak.

“The latest guidance asks hospitals to step up non-Covid-19 urgent services over the coming weeks, and we are now developing our plans to do this,” she added.

The trust revealed its plans after being asked by York Outer MP Julian Sturdy for clarification on the rescheduling of operations that have been delayed at the hospital because of the virus.

The MP said prolonged delays to routine surgery and treatment for conditions like cancer risked storing up a wave of non-coronavirus patients needing hospital care.

On Friday, The Press reported that York has recorded a sharp drop in cancer referrals - sparking concern from GPs.

NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) cancer lead, Dr Daniel Cottingham, said the two-week referral rate for cancer appointments across the city has fallen by around 70 per cent.

Mr Sturdy added: “It would be reassuring for there to be clarity on the trust’s plan to address this risk.” He added that many residents awaiting surgery would appreciate confirmation of the revised timetable for treatment.

He said an estimated 2.1 million routine operations have been cancelled nationwide since April 15, some of them in York, to prevent the transmission of the virus, and to give the NHS the necessary space to take the strain of Covid-19 cases.

He said: “This has helped free up over 33,000 beds, in addition to the new ‘Nightingale’ hospitals built from scratch, to absorb the rise in cases.

“While necessary to ensure the NHS can address the outbreak, and protect the health of surgery patients, the delays are understandably of concern to those awaiting operations, many of whom are in poor health.”