Operations: 'Too many' cancelled
More than 800 patients have had their operations cancelled at the last minute at Leicester's hospitals in the past nine months.
New figures show that last month alone 91 people were told on the day their surgery was planned that the operation would not be going ahead.
In the majority of cases – 63 – it was because there were not enough beds available either in intensive care or on the ward.
The remaining operations were called off due to a lack of doctors or theatre staff and in two instances the patient's notes were missing.
In a report due to be considered by directors at the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust tomorrow, Nigel Kee – divisional manager for planned care at Leicester's hospitals – said: "The main reason for the short notice cancellations during the month was due to an increase in emergency demand, creating pressure on the bed capacity."
Managers are looking at ways to cut the number of cancellations.
About 100 operations are being transferred to private hospitals, although the cost of this is similar to that which would be paid to Leicester's hospitals.
They are also working on plans to create extra space at Glenfield Hospital to minimise the risk of day case surgery being cancelled.
Managers are also looking at ways to try to make sure operation times do not overrun, which can lead to cancellations.
Last month, 75 patients accepted new appointments within 28 days, the Government's standard.
Last April, the trust set itself a target of not cancelling more than 0.8 per cent of operations on the day.
However, it has only met this target once and that was in August, when 0.5 per cent of operations were cancelled.
Phil Walmsley, head of operations at Leicester's hospitals, said: "We know it can be distressing to have an operation rescheduled, but we do only cancel when it is absolutely necessary, such as emergency situations if we do not have a bed available or if other operations have taken longer than expected."
A total of 836 operations out of 77,779 operations were cancelled between the start of April and the end of December, which represents 1.1 per cent of operations.
One patient, who asked not to be named, said: "It is absolutely devastating to have your operation cancelled.
"You are geared up for it and then to be told it is not happening is very difficult.
"I don't blame the doctors. It is the system."
Zuffar Haq, a member of the Leicester Mercury Patients' Panel, said: "It is very disappointing that so many operations have been cancelled.
"I know that things are getting a little bit better at Leicester's hospitals, but 800 cases is too many.
"It is unacceptable for patients and their families.
"The hospitals need to be doing more to rectify this ongoing problem and working with partners to ensure intensive care and ward beds are available."