Concern as cancelled operations rise

HOSPITAL bosses have pledged action to bring cancelled operations under control after it emerged the number of patients who had their surgery aborted at the eleventh hour had risen month-on-month.

Laurence Cawley

HOSPITAL bosses have pledged action to bring cancelled operations under control after it emerged the number of patients who had their surgery aborted at the eleventh hour had risen month-on-month.

A lack of theatre time, staff shortages in anaesthetics and a rise in trauma cases have all been cited by managers at West Suffolk Hospital as causes of the recent hike in cancelled operations.

In June, just 17 operations were cancelled at the Bury St Edmunds hospital. But in July that number rose to 22.


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Bosses at the hospital say work is under way to look at the reasons for each and every cancelled operation as part of a bid to bring the numbers back down.

Gwen Nuttall, executive chief operating officer at West Suffolk Hospital, said: “We do everything we can to avoid cancelling operations, but do occasionally need to postpone elective surgery for reasons beyond our control, such as urgent trauma cases and staff absence.

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“We want to ensure we consistently hit our target of 0.8% cancellations, as we did in June, for the benefit of the patients we serve.

“As a result, we are now looking closely at the reasons behind every postponement which took place during July and will take action, wherever necessary, to reduce that figure in future months.”

The increase in cancelled operations in July came after the hospital had managed to get numbers down from 32 in April, to 21 in May to 17 in June.

The trust aims to keep the number of cancelled operations below 0.8% of all operations planned.

In August last year, the trust achieved 0.6%. But from September 2008, the hospital failed to hit its targets until June this year. In September 2008, the percentage of cancelled operations hit 1.64% and then rose to 2.93% in November last year.

Other causes of the July increase in cancelled operations highlighted by hospital bosses include major complications which meant surgeons had to spend longer in theatre and administration issues at the trust.

The situation regarding cancelled operations will be discussed by the hospital's board when it meets tomorrow.

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