Hospital works lead to op axe increase

Wigan Infirmary
Wigan Infirmary
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Operating theatre improvement work led to a surge in last minute surgery cancellations in the borough’s hospitals.

New figures from NHS England show Wrightington, Wigan And Leigh NHS Foundation Trust axed 203 procedures for non-clinical reasons between April and June.

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This was a 21.5 per cent increase on the 167 cancelled operations in the same quarter last year.

However, it was a slight reduction on previous quarters - which included the extremely busy winter months - with 217 elective procedures scrapped between January and March and 222 from October to December.

The trust said some of the scheduled operations had to be cancelled as a theatre at Wrightington Hospital was out of use while improvement work was carried out.

Mary Fleming, director of operations and performance at the trust, said: “There were 36 more cancelled elective operations in quarter one this year, when compared with the same period last year.

“The single largest variance were cancellations during the required improvement works on one of the theatres at our Wrightington site.”

The NHS classes “last minute” as cancelled on the day the patient was due to arrive, after the patient has arrived or on the day of the operation.

Cancellations can be due to hospital issues, such as a lack of beds, but can also be the patient’s choice.

Earlier this year, the trust told the Post that the top three reasons for cancelled operations were patient request, lack of theatre time and patients failing to attend for the procedure.

To prevent last minute cancellations, if a procedure is being booked with under two weeks’ notice, the admissions team at the trust rings the patient to confirm the date is acceptable.

If it is more than six weeks away from the date of listing, the patient receives a letter to attend for their operation and two weeks before they are contacted to confirm they will be there.

When an operation is cancelled, a new date is supposed to be offered by the trust within 28 days.

The new figures from NHS England show 15 Wigan patients (7.3 per cent of those affected by the initial postponements) were not treated within that time between April and June.

In the same period last year, 14 patients had not been treated within 28 days (8.3 per cent).

Across England, 18,825 elective procedures were cancelled at the last minute in the first quarter of 2018-19, with 2,027 patients (10.7 per cent) not subsequently treated within the target time.

For the same period last year, there were 18,789 cancellations and 1,365 patients (7.2 per cent) were not treated within the following 28 days, according to the data.

NHS England has also published new figures showing how many urgent operations were cancelled in June.

Nationwide 270 urgent operations were axed that month, but none of those were in Wigan.