Swedish hospital cancels more surgeries as supply shortage drags on

Uppsala University Hospital has been forced to cancel another two days of non-essential surgeries, after a shortage of supplies sparked a crisis meeting with healthcare bosses.

Swedish hospital cancels more surgeries as supply shortage drags on
File photo of a nurse handling blood at Uppsala University Hospital. Photo: Stina Stjernkvist/TT

All scheduled routine surgeries and non-essential inpatient care has been cancelled at the hospital since Friday, after a new supplier failed to deliver equipment such as hand disinfectants, sterile gloves and catheters.

On Friday the hospital postponed surgeries until Tuesday at the earliest, but in a statement on Monday hospital bosses confirmed that non-essential surgeries would also be cancelled on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“We received some deliveries over the weekend, but we have not yet reached the levels that we need to carry on with normal services while maintaining our capacity to cope with emergency events, such as a major accident,” said Uppsala University Hospital head physician Mikael Köhler.

The hospital said it would make a decision regarding surgeries scheduled for Thursday on Wednesday morning, but could on Monday afternoon not yet say when the problems would be fully resolved.

Emergency care, essential surgeries, outpatient care that does not require surgical procedures, and care for patients already in hospital, were all said to be running as normal.

Five healthcare regions in total are affected by the late deliveries, including Uppsala, Örebro, Dalarna, Västmanland and Sörmland. All of the regions apart from Sörmland were on Monday placed in so-called stabsläge – a higher level of preparedness to for example quickly re-allocate resources or call in extra staff.

Sweden's National Board of Health and Welfare called healthcare officials to a crisis meeting on Monday to get more information about how the regions are ensuring they are ready to handle major unforeseen events.

The problems arose when the regions changed suppliers at the start of the month.

The new supplier, Apotekstjänst, said it was “working around the clock to solve the very troubling situation” and had outlined a plan with the regions to get back on track.

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