Operations cancelled due to a lack of beds

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HOSPITAL bosses have revealed 23 operations have been cancelled at the last minute in Sheffield over the last three weeks because of a lack of beds.

Sheffield’s adult hospitals are facing unprecedented pressure with a large increase in emergency admissions, The Star revealed yesterday.

Usually, the Northern General and Royal Hallamshire hospitals can expect to see about 280 emergency admissions and visits a day – but that number has risen to 330.

A prolonged outbreak of the norovirus superbug has made matters worse – with 33 beds at the Northern General and six at the Hallamshire currently out of use because of the spread of the virus.

The problems have meant some scheduled operations – just more than one a day on average between February 20 and March 11 – have been cancelled on the day because there were not enough free critical care or post-operative beds available.

The figure is a slight increase on the average rate.

Between April and October 2011, 143 operations were cancelled on the day because beds were not available – about 4.7 a week. In the last three weeks that has risen to 7.7 a week. Managers have acted by opening a 34-bed ‘surge ward’ at the Northern General to cope with extra demand.

Prof Hilary Chapman, chief nurse and chief operating officer at the hospitals trust, said: “As part of our winter plans every year we ensure we have the ability to flex up or down the number of beds available.”