Hundreds of operations cancelled in six months

Wigan Infirmary
Wigan Infirmary

ALMOST 300 operations in Wigan were cancelled during the past six months, shock new figures show.

NHS data shows that from April to September 294 people had their surgery called off at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh (WWL) NHS Foundation Trust on the day they were due to go under the knife.

But while this puts the trust fourth out of eight hospitals in Greater Manchester, it has the lowest percentage increase in cancelled ops from the same period last year - with a rise of 24.7 per cent.

Overall, the number of planned operations cancelled at the last minute across Greater Manchester has jumped by 44.5 per cent.

Stepping Hill Hospital was the worst performing, with an 87 per cent rise, followed by Wythenshawe Hospital has seen a hike of 75.6 per cent.

Mary Fleming, deputy director of operations and performance in surgery at WWL NHS Trust, said: “Staff are coping admirably with an increase in numbers of patients. This has, unfortunately, led to some planned operations being cancelled.

“Between July and September this year we carried out more than 12,000 elective procedures across our hospitals and cancelled 148 patients on the day of their procedure due to non-clinical reasons.

“We recognise the distress it can cause to patients whose operations are cancelled on the day they planned to have their procedure, which is why we make every effort to avoid cancellation of non-urgent operation but sometimes it cannot be helped.

“From time to time, it is necessary to cancel due to a higher than expected number of patients admitted as an emergency or there have been equipment failure and reduced staffing levels due to sickness absence.

“Our staff across WWL work extremely hard in often very difficult circumstances and under pressure to ensure we provide the best service possible to our patients.

“We are pleased to report that we have also put in place a number of measures to avoid cancelling as many operations as possible, some of these measures include the introduction of a day case area on the Wigan site and the choice of hospital site where appropriate.”

The Royal College of Surgeons said last year that, nationally, operations are being cancelled to free up beds because too many people are being admitted to wards via A&E.

Shadow Health Secretary and Leigh MP Andy Burnham has blamed the rise in cancelled operations on the government.

He said: “Hospitals are full to bursting, with record numbers in A&E departments, and it is clearly dragging down the rest of the NHS.

“Thousands of patients face the indignity of having an operation cancelled at the very last minute.

“Meanwhile, it’s getting harder to see your GP and A&Es are struggling more than at any point for a decade too.”