Woman’s knee op cancelled three times as Colchester General Hospital struggles with high demand

Colchester General Hospital.

Colchester General Hospital. - Credit: Su Anderson

Routine operations at Colchester General Hospital have been cancelled as it battles to get to grips with high demand in A&E and cancer services.

One woman’s knee replacement has been delayed by seven months due to high demand in other areas of the hospital.

The patient was added to the orthopaedic surgery waiting list in July, which currently has a published wait time of 9-15 weeks.

But her pre-op check – carried out no more than eight weeks before the operation itself – has been cancelled three times.The 51-year-old Colchester woman, who has asked not to be named, had been referred to a private hospital as part of Colchester General Hospital’s outsourcing programme in a bid to beat waiting times, but says she was refused treatment there because the independent centre had different criteria to the NHS.

She said: “It has left me feeling depressed and angry.


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“I can’t go out and about because I need a knee replacement, and because I am immobile I have put weight on – because of that the private hospital won’t do the surgery.

“I asked about being referred to another NHS hospital but was told I would go to the back of the list, and a lot of hospitals are having similar problems.

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“I’m in constant pain. I can’t really walk on it, and when I do it aggravates the hip because I can’t walk properly. The longer it’s left it will cause more ongoing problems.

“I had my other knee done in Colchester in 2012 and they were brilliant then. You can’t fault the staff.”

Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital, said operations had been cancelled to cope with demand in emergency care and cancer waiting times.

In November the hospital declared an internal major incident because it was so full.

A trust spokesman said: “Like other trusts, we have been very busy this winter.

“This period of unprecedented demand has meant we have had to take actions that impact more on some patients than others, in order to relieve the pressure.

“For instance, we have had to postpone elective operations, including orthopaedic procedures, so we can carry out emergency and cancer operations.

“We apologise to affected patients for the distress and inconvenience this causes. If we cancel an operation at the last minute for non-clinical reasons, we will offer a new date within 28 days.

“The majority of our elective operations are carried out on a day case basis and these are continuing as normal.

“Thanks go to staff who have been working so hard, to patients for their understanding and to partner organisations for their continuing support.”

The trust does not comment on individual cases.

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