Progress made on cancelled operations

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Hundreds of surgical operations have been called off at short notice so far this year at Sheffield hospitals for non-clinical reasons – but health chiefs say they are making progress in cutting the rate of cancellations.

At Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – which runs the Royal Hallamshire, Weston Park and Northern General hospitals – 260 operations were cancelled on the day of the operation.

The statistics were revealed in quarterly figures published by NHS England, covering April to June, 2013.

In the year 2012-13, 1,161 operations were cancelled, up from 879 in 2009-10.

One of the biggest non-clinical reasons was bed availability, while high numbers of emergency admissions and winter bugs also had an impact.

Managers are aiming to get the figure down by next April, then to bring it down further in future years.

From April to June last year, 272 procedures were called off on the day, meaning a reduction of 12 has been achieved so far.

Richard Parker, deputy chief operating officer at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, said: “We only cancel operations in exceptional circumstances because we know how stressful this can be to the patient and their family.

“Usually an operation is cancelled either because the patient is not fit to undergo surgery or due to a high level of demand by emergency patients. However, I am pleased to say, due to the hard work of our staff so far this year, we have cancelled 7.3 per cent fewer operations than the same period last year.

“We will continue to work hard to minimise the number of cancelled operations although this becomes more of a challenge during busy winter months.”