Pressure on beds, staff sickness and emergency cases are among the reasons for more than 900 operations being cancelled at Ipswich Hospital in the last three years.

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From December 2009 until September 2012, 963 operations scheduled at Ipswich Hospital were cancelled at short notice – because of a lack of beds or staff, a problem with hospital equipment or administration.

The statistics revealed in Parliament show at West Suffolk Hospital (WSH) that figure was 568 procedures.

An Ipswich hospital spokeswoman said the trust is consistently exceeding the nationally set standard that less than one per cent of operations are cancelled for non-clinical reasons.

She said: “The 963 cancellations in this report should be considered against the figure of 134,093 which is this number of operations we carried out in that time.

“Obviously we are sorry when an operation has to be cancelled at short notice and our teams work extremely hard to make sure it only happens when absolutely necessary.

“We recognise the frustration and anxiety it can cause patients.

“There are some unavoidable situations, for example if a surgeon is unwell and unable to perform the operation, if the speciality bed is not available unexpectedly, or if there is not enough time left on the theatre list because previous operations have taken longer than planned.

“We are working hard in this area, and the percentage of operations we are cancelling is reducing.”

So far this year Ipswich Hospital have cancelled 0.4 per cent of all operations for non-clinical reasons at short notice.

Nationally for the last three months of 2012 the average was 0.7pc compared to the Heath Road trust’s average of 0.5pc.

Andy Graham, interim chief operating officer at WSH said: “We do everything we can to avoid cancelling operations, but do occasionally need to postpone elective surgery for reasons beyond our control, such as urgent trauma cases and staff absence.

“We will continue working to reduce this figure in the future for the benefit of our patients.”

n What do you think? Write to the Star’s health reporter Lizzie Parry at Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail lizzie.parry@archant.co.uk

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