Surgery cancelled as winter hits Leicester's hospitals
Nine children and 12 adults had their operations cancelled on Monday because of a shortage of hospital beds.
A surge in emergency admissions over the weekend – in part caused by the cold and wet weather – meant there were no spare beds at Leicester's hospitals for patients due to have operations on Monday.
The effect was still being felt yesterday, when three operations were cancelled.
Campaigners are calling for hospitals to be given funding for extra beds as seasonal pressure on services starts to grow.
Phil Walmsley, head of operations at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, said: "We hate cancelling on any patient, but there was very high demand on Friday, Saturday and Sunday."
He said colder, wetter weather had led to an increase in the number of people suffering respiratory problems.
Nearly 1,400 people were seen in the A&E department at the infirmary between Friday and Saturday, compared with an average of 1,260.
There was also an increase in the number of people admitted.
Mr Walmsley said: "We would expect to admit about 200 people on a Saturday and Sunday but this weekend there were 240 emergency admissions and it is difficult to cope with a sudden peak in activity and patients, old and young, who needed to be admitted.
"Unfortunately, it meant we started Monday with very few beds.
"It is a problem the whole country is struggling with."
Nearly 70 sick children had to be admitted to hospital over the weekend – the average is 40 – which meant cancellations for young patients scheduled to be admitted to the infirmary for operations on Monday.
Mr Walmsley said the children sent home were mainly waiting for ear, nose and throat operations.
Of the adults, nine operations were cancelled at the infirmary and three at Leicester General. The majority were cardiac patients needing non-emergency surgery.
Mr Walmsley said: "We will rearrange all the operations within the next 28 days."
Tom Steele, 29, from Groby, and his wife had to wait more than five hours to see whether his wife's operation would go ahead on Monday.
He said: "There were a lot tears as people were told they would have to go home.
"Eventually, we were told a bed was available and my wife's operation would go ahead but there were at least three others told to go home.
"A doctor admitted it wasn't good enough but it was no good shouting at him."
Campaigner Zuffar Haq, from the Leicester Mercury Patients' Panel, said the situation was "totally unacceptable".
"Winter pressures haven't really started and yet our hospitals seem unable to cope," he said.
"More capacity needs to be funded and it needs to happen now."