Fewer operations cancelled at Norfolk and Norwich hospital but record set at James Paget hospital
- Credit: PA
Fewer operations were cancelled at the region's biggest hospital over three months than in previous years, despite intense pressure on services.
Fresh figures released today show the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (N&N) recorded its lowest number of cancelled non-emergency operations between October-December since 2013.
But James Paget University Hospital (JPH), in Gorleston, cancelled a record number of operations in the same timeframe - blaming 'several spikes' in demand during October.
It comes as health secretary Jeremy Hunt said the NHS is facing unacceptable problems.
The figures, released by NHS England, count operations that are cancelled on the scheduled day or the day the patient arrives in hospital, and can occur for a number of reasons - such as unavailability of surgeons, theatres, or post-operation beds.
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Richard Parker, chief operating officer at the N&N, said the reduction was achieved by maintaining a good patient flow, with 'no hold-ups in the patient's journey through the hospital'.
Initiatives included using its day procedure unit more effectively and seeing patients coming through A&E in new ambulatory care clinics, which enables them to leave hospital that day without needing a bed.
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All hospitals are supposed to offer patients whose operations have been cancelled at such short notice a new date which is within 28 days of the original procedure.
But the JPH, which cancelled 162 operations in the three months, failed to do so for 44 patients.
Graham Wilde, chief operating officer at the JPH, said the hospital 'tries' to get operations re-booked as fast as possible.
'Our hospital has seen an unprecedented rise in demand during the winter,' he added.
'For example, during October 2016, there were several spikes in demand, particularly in the middle of the month. These contributed to a 12pc increase in emergency admissions to the hospital compared to the same month in 2015.
'There are occasions when cancellations are unavoidable for reasons including emergency pressures, such as those that affected the hospital last October.'
Nationally, 21,249 non-emergency operations were reported to have been cancelled in the third quarter of this financial year - up 15pc on the third quarter in 2015/16.
Patient's friend writes to Prime Minister
The cancellation of two hip replacement operations for a north Suffolk woman has prompted calls to politicians to address the winter troubles affecting the NHS.
The woman, who has not been named, has been waiting more than 18 weeks for her operation at James Page Hospital in Gorleston.
Her friend, Alan Walpole, raised her plight with MPs Therese Coffey and Peter Aldous, and Prime Minster Theresa May.
He wrote: 'Elderly and frail people, who are in pain, are now having to wait much longer as a result of problems 'up the line'. 'Repeated cancellation and waiting causes additional stress and in many cases increased muscle wastage that will hamper recovery post operation.
'They are being left 'dangling' with little or no information.
'Any plans that they have made or intend to make will have to be put on hold. More honest and transparent information needs to be made available to those waiting.'
Speaking at a Downing Street press conference Mrs May said: 'We have put record funding into the National Health Service.
'I recognise that it is under pressure.
'But if you look at what's been happening in A&E, in December we had a record number - the busiest day in A&E that has taken place in the NHS.
'We are now seeing something like 3,000 more people being seen within the four-hour standard every single day in the NHS.
'The staff working in the NHS are doing an excellent job, day in and day out. 'We are putting funding in and we are seeing higher numbers of doctors, higher numbers of nurses, higher numbers of paramedics in our hospitals, and they are providing excellent care.'