Imagine you’re a patient waiting for an operation. You may be in considerable discomfort, yet you soldier on in the knowledge that you have a date in the diary for surgery. You can put up with the pain because soon it will be a thing of the past.
But then, as you count down the days to your hospital admission, you are contacted with some bad news. The operation has had to be cancelled as the hospital resources are overstretched. You will have to wait for a new date.
That must be hard to take. So we have to be concerned that this is happening so often at the Queen Alexandra Hospital at Cosham.
Today we reveal how cancellations at the QA jumped from 588 in 2012 to 1,096 in 2014. There were a variety of reasons, but the two biggest factors were lack of beds and staff.
Last year, 259 operations were put off because of staffing shortages and 314 because there were not enough beds. In 2012, those figures were 101 and 78 respectively.
We have already reported on the increased demand that has led to casualty at the QA being overwhelmed. But we agree with Hampshire Healthwatch manager Steve Taylor when he talks of the distress caused by cancelled operations and the need for those who run the QA to take this issue very seriously.
Of course there are no miracle cures for the pressure being placed on the hospital.
We also understand there will always be occasions where a patient emergency takes priority over a non-urgent operation.
But what must not happen is for cancelled operations to become accepted as an inevitable result of resource shortfalls.
The situation must be constantly reviewed and everything done to ensure people are seen at the right time and that postponement of surgery is kept to an absolute minimum.