Cancelled surgery doubles in just two years at QA

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THE number of operations cancelled because of bed and staff shortages at Queen Alexandra Hospital rocketed to over 1,000 last year.

In total, 588 operations were cancelled in 2012. That fell to 531 in 2013, but in 2014 increased to 1,096.

A growing number of operations have been cancelled at QA Hospital in Cosham

A growing number of operations have been cancelled at QA Hospital in Cosham

Of those procedures, last year 259 were put off due to lack of staff, and 314 because there were not enough beds.

This compares with 2012, when the figures were 101 and 78.

Fareham MP Mark Hoban said the numbers were disappointing.

He said: ‘This is another sign of the A&E problem. There’s a huge demand on services, it’s impacting on QA and it’s quite disappointing.

‘It’s to do with the flow of patients going in and out of the hospital, and if you aren’t getting them out quickly, plus we have a higher demand in A&E, and have more people coming in.’

Other reasons for procedures being cancelled include equipment issues, sessions being overbooked or overrunning and urgent patients being added.

Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust (PHT), which runs QA, was asked to explain why the figures were worsening dramatically.

A trust spokesman said: ‘We take any cancellation of operations very seriously avoid the action wherever possible.

‘Operation cancellations, whether made by the trust or the patient, is something we work extremely hard to minimise. There are times when circumstances mean an appointment or operation cannot go ahead, for example when an patient emergency takes priority.

‘Should this happen, we make every effort to ensure the appointment or operation is rescheduled as soon as possible, at a time convenient for the patient.’

PHT gets most of its funding from the Portsmouth, Fareham and Gosport and South Eastern Hampshire Clinical Commissioning Groups.

Julia Barton, the chief quality officer for F&G and SEH CCGs, said: ‘It’s right hospitals should make emergencies and cancer care their priority, but at the same time it’s important people do not face unacceptable waits for booked operations, or the frustration of having surgery postponed at short notice.

‘As commissioners, we know the hospital continually reviews the capacity it has available to treat patients.

‘At times of high demand for emergency care, difficult decisions may have to be made to rearrange routine operations, to ensure those people who need treatment urgently can be looked after quickly and safely.

‘Postponements can cause upset and inconvenience, and we know those decisions are not taken lightly – we would expect them to be kept to an absolute minimum.

‘It’s important to note between April and December 2014, QA, 99 per of the people whose surgery was postponed received their treatment within 28 days.’

Postponed operations are ‘distressing’ for patients

A PATIENT watchdog group has called on all parts of the NHS to work together to reduce the number of cancelled operations.

Hampshire Healthwatch manager Steve Taylor said: ‘We know the disruption to patients is significant when operations are cancelled.

‘We often hear patients have put their lives on hold when waiting for an operation and to have it cancelled can be quite distressing for them.

‘We hope the whole system will take this issue very seriously and try to make sure that patients are treated quickly.’

To read The News’ view on this click here.