Growing misery of cancelled surgery at Wigan's hospitals

Wigan Infirmary
Wigan Infirmary

The number of operations being cancelled at the last minute in the borough’s hospitals has soared.

New figures from NHS England show 242 elective procedures were axed within Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust between January and March.

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That was a 26 per cent rise from the 192 cancellations in the previous three months and an 11.5 per cent increase from the same period last year.

It takes the total number of operations cancelled at the trust in 2018-19 to 840.

The winter months are notoriously fraught for healthcare providers.

There were issues in other parts of the trust, with Wigan Infirmary shutting two wards for several days in January due to outbreaks of norovirus and influenza.

More people also had to wait for over four hours to be seen in the A&E department, with the trust seeing just 63.7 per cent of patients in four hours in January.

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.

Reasons for cancellations can include bed shortages, emergency cases taking priority, a lack of theatre time and patients’ choice.

Patients should then be treated within 28 days, but the new data shows this was also an issue for the trust.

A total of 17 patients (seven per cent) were not treated on time during that period.

That compares to just five patients (2.6 per cent)facing a longer wait in the previous quarter.

During 2018-19, 840 operations were axed at the last minute in Wigan, with 42 people waiting more than four weeks to be treated.

The Observer contacted the trust about the rising number of cancellations but it did not provide a statement.

NHS England has also published new data on the number of urgent operations cancelled at hospitals around the country.

It shows no urgent procedures needed to be scrapped in Wigan in March.