The purpose of this guideline is to help healthcare professionals deliver efficient planned care while minimising the risk of COVID-19 in the context of increasing or decreasing local prevalence. It also aims to help patients make decisions about their planned care.

It is for adults, young people and children in hospitals and diagnostic settings. Planned care covers elective surgery (day surgery and inpatient stays), interventional procedures, diagnostics and imaging. It does not include services where people have ongoing outpatient and day-case procedures such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy and dialysis.

When using this guideline, follow the usual professional guidelines, standards and laws (including those on equalities, safeguarding, communication and mental capacity), as described in making decisions using NICE guidelines.

View 1-page visual summary

See a 1-page visual summary to support decision making.

 

This guideline is for:

  • health and care practitioners
  • health and care staff involved in planning and delivering services
  • commissioners

The recommendations bring together:

  • evidence from published literature on COVID-19 and arranging planned care
  • existing national and international guidance and policies
  • advice from specialists working in the NHS from across the UK. These include clinicians and provider organisations delivering planned care services, patients, NHS England and NHS Improvement, and Public Health England.

We developed this guideline using the interim process and methods for guidelines developed in response to health and social care emergencies. We will review and update the recommendations as the knowledge base develops.

     

Your responsibility

The recommendations in this guideline represent the view of NICE, arrived at after careful consideration of the evidence available. When exercising their judgement, professionals and practitioners are expected to take this guideline fully into account, alongside the individual needs, preferences and values of their patients or the people using their service. It is not mandatory to apply the recommendations, and the guideline does not override the responsibility to make decisions appropriate to the circumstances of the individual, in consultation with them and their families and carers or guardian. 

All problems (adverse events) related to a medicine or medical device used for treatment or in a procedure should be reported to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency using the Yellow Card Scheme.

Local commissioners and providers of healthcare have a responsibility to enable the guideline to be applied when individual professionals and people using services wish to use it. They should do so in the context of local and national priorities for funding and developing services, and in light of their duties to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, to advance equality of opportunity and to reduce health inequalities. Nothing in this guideline should be interpreted in a way that would be inconsistent with complying with those duties.


Commissioners and providers have a responsibility to promote an environmentally sustainable health and care system and should assess and reduce the environmental impact of implementing NICE recommendations wherever possible.