PROCEDURES and operations are being cancelled at Basingstoke hospital as staff make preparations to deal with the pressures of coronavirus.

All face-to-face outpatients appointments at Basingstoke hospital will now be conducted by telephone.

Staff at the Aldermaston Road hospital are in the process of contacting patients to cancel numerous appointments, including procedures, as well as operations.

The hospital has confirmed that all non-urgent elective operations will be suspended from April 15 for at least three months, with some other procedures likely to be rescheduled before then.

A statement from Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Basingstoke hospital, said: “As the chief medical officer has stated, NHS services are likely to come under intense pressure as the coronavirus spreads, and we need to ensure that we have as many beds available as possible to care for patients with severe respiratory problems when the number of infections peaks.

“Therefore, in line with well-established plans for situations like this, every hospital in England has now been asked to suspend all non-urgent elective operations from 15 April for at least three months, with some other procedures likely to be rescheduled before then so we can train our staff and adapt certain areas.”

Urgent and emergency cases along with cancer treatments will continue as normal.

The hospital trust added: “We know many people waiting for treatment will be disappointed or worried, and we will be contacting everyone affected as soon as possible.”

The hospital has also introduced restrictions to visiting to help reduce the spread of coronavirus.

Visiting patients in inpatient wards or escorting them in outpatient departments is no longer allowed, unless under “exceptional circumstances” which will be at the discretion of the nurse in charge of the relevant ward, and permission must be sought before arrival on site.

The hospital said: “These restrictions have been put in place to ensure the safety of our patients, staff and visitors. We know that not being able to visit your loved ones when they are unwell is difficult and we are doing everything we can to allow as much access as is safe. Please consider alternative ways of staying in contact with your loved ones while they are in hospital, such as telephone calls.”

Those wishing to visit loved ones who are receiving palliative or end of life care can continue to visit, but should still contact the ward before travelling.

The hospital is also “strongly recommending” that children under 16 should not visit in any circumstances, and that the maternity ward is restricted to birthing partners only.