More than 1,000 patients have operations cancelled on day in Sheffield

Northern General Hospital, Sheffield.
Northern General Hospital, Sheffield.
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More than 1,000 people have had hospital operations cancelled on the day in Sheffield in the past 12 months.

In more than 10 per cent of the cases in 2014/15, the reason for cancellation was an administrative error.

Details have been revealed in a report that went to Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s board of directors last Wednesday.

The report said the number of operations cancelled on the day for non-clinical reasons has been above the target of 75 a month for 10 of the 12 months of the year.

It said one in five operations were cancelled because of a lack of available time in operating theatres, with more urgent cases taking precedence on 12 per cent of occasions.

Seventeen per cent of the cancelled operations were down to a lack of available clinical staff, with 14 per cent a result of no general or intensive care beds being free for patients to recover in after an operation.

A further 20 per cent of cases were recorded as being cancelled for ‘other’ non-clinical reasons.

The report said improvements are being demanded with scheduling of operations, while managers will be asked to provide more details about what administrative errors have occurred.

The report also revealed 15 patients who had operations cancelled on the day for non-clinical reasons were not readmitted within 28 days.

This was a slight increase on the 11 patients in the same position in 2013/14.

The report said the main reason for this was lack of theatre time and availability of surgeons.

Kirsten Major, director of strategy and operations for the trust, said efforts are being made to reduce problems.

She said: “Our staff try very hard not to postpone operations if at all possible and 99 per cent of the 110,000 operations we carried out last year went ahead as planned.

“We very rarely postpone an urgent operation and despite having one of the busiest winters in the history of the NHS, we postponed significantly fewer non-urgent planned operations than the previous year.

“We are trying to reduce this number even further because we know how upsetting it is for patients to have their operation postponed and some of the actions include improving our administrative systems by introducing new processes and technology.

“This will also help predict more accurately how long operations will take based on more detailed analysis of previous cases.

“This should reduce the number of cancellations due to a lack of clinical staff and lack of theatre time. We always try to reschedule any postponed operations as quickly as possible for patients.”