Sheffield hospitals among the worst in the country for last-minute operation cancellations

The number of patients having their operations cancelled at the last minute is on the rise at the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, figures reveal.

Monday, 16th December 2019, 12:03 pm
Updated Friday, 3rd January 2020, 4:18 pm

NHS England data shows 271 non-urgent procedures, such as hip or knee operations, were cancelled by the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust at the last minute in the three months to September – one of the highest numbers in the country placing the trust in the top ten per cent.

This was an increase of 39 per cent from the same period last year, when there were 195 last-minute cancellations.

However, the Trust says that while the figures for these three months reflect an increase for that part of the year, the overall trend over the past three years has seen the number of cancellations at their hospitals in Sheffield decrease.

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The Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield

The hospitals operated by the trust include: Northern General Hospital; Royal Hallamshire Hospital; Jessop Wing; Weston Park Cancer Centre and Charles Clifford Dental Hospital.

The data covers cancellations for non-clinical reasons, such as bed or staff shortages.

A last-minute cancellation is defined as being either on the day that a patient was due to arrive, after the patient has arrived, or on the day of the operation itself.

Michael Harper, Chief Operating Officer, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “Between April and September last year we carried out over 40,000 operations and less than 0.6 per cent (271) of these had to be postponed at short notice.

Northern General Hospital.

“Over the past 3 years we have seen a trend of reduced cancellations not an increase.

“The figure fluctuates during different time periods but generally the percentage of cancellations each year has reduced or stayed the same.

“Our staff work exceptionally hard to ensure we don’t cancel a procedure because we know how distressing this is for patients and their families, however sometimes a patient may not be well enough to have the procedure on the day of surgery or we may have unexpected sickness in the operating team.

“If this happens we try to re-arrange the surgery as quickly as possible.”

Michael Harper, Chief Operating Officer, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust