Hundreds of patients have operations cancelled

HUNDREDS of patients across Suffolk and north Essex have had their operations cancelled at the last moment, new figures show.

Rebecca Lefort

HUNDREDS of patients across Suffolk and north Essex have had their operations cancelled at the last moment, new figures show.

Hospitals in the region reported mixed performance with Colchester Hospital seeing the number of operations it shelved for non-clinical reasons leap by more than 50% in one year.

In contrast Ipswich Hospital succeeded in slashing the number of patients it told to wait longer for treatment.

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The Department of Health data showed that between April and June this year Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust cancelled 91 operations, up from 60 in the same period in 2008.

Sue Barnett, deputy chief executive for the trust - which runs Colchester General Hospital, Essex County Hospital and hospitals in Clacton, Harwich and Halstead - said: "The increase is due to a mixture of reasons, including the operation no longer being required and by beds being unavailable afterwards on the day."

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Meanwhile at Ipswich Hospital the news was much better.

Last year the Heath Road hospital was criticised for telling 187 patients their operations could not go ahead between April and July.

This year the Heath Road hospital cancelled 69 operations in the same period for non-clinical reasons, a reduction of 63 per cent.

Jan Rowsell, hospital spokeswoman, said the hospital was thrilled with the success, but stressed it wanted to go even further.

She said: “We said that cancelling so many operations last year was simply not acceptable. One is one too many and we want to reduce it even further.

“We always said that reducing the number of cancelled operations was a top priority and we are very pleased to see these figures and that we are already going in the right direction.

“The reason for the changes are about how we manage beds in a better way.”

At West Suffolk Hospital 66 operations were cancelled for non-clinical reasons between April and June 2008, rising to 68 this year.

A spokesman for the Bury St Edmunds 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 or staff absence.

"We contact all of the patients affected by a cancellation and arrange an alternative date for their surgery within 28 days."

Meanwhile at the James Paget Hospital in Gorleston the number of cancelled operations in the three-month period rose from 77 in 2008 to 87 this year.

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