Concern over cancelled operations

MORE than one operation was cancelled every day over the space of a year at Ipswich Hospital - with more than a third because of a lack of beds, it emerged today.

Rebecca Lefort

MORE than one operation was cancelled every day over the space of a year at Ipswich Hospital - with more than a third because of a lack of beds, it emerged today.

Between April 2007 and March 2008 the hospital called off 403 scheduled operations.

Among those, 188 were put on hold because no bed was available, with the problem growing in the last three months. During January, February and March 139 operations were put on hold over beds.

The news comes after The Evening Star revealed some ambulances were waiting for more than an hour outside the Accident & Emergency department before they were able to admit patients to the under-pressure hospital.

Jan Rowsell, spokeswoman for the hospital, said: “One cancelled operation is one too many and we need to get better at how we bring people in.

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“We recognise we have a way to go to be as good as we can at managing patient flow through the hospital.

“We have faced severe bed pressure over the last couple of months like a lot of other hospitals.

“We are doing a lot of work to address it and have four projects which now span the whole activity of the hospital.”

She added that once the hospital's new £26million Garrett Anderson Centre opens to the public in June the situation should improve, with beds dedicated to elective operations available.

Prue Rush, a patient advocate at the hospital, said the figures showed more needed to be done to make sure beds were kept free for patients who needed them.

She said: “It is deeply distressing for unwell patients who are having to have their surgery put on hold.

“If it is because of lack of beds they (NHS bosses) need to think again about community care.

“It is important to get patients out of beds in hospital and into community care and everyone needs to work together for that.

“There could be patients ready and able to come home, but there is no one to look after them.”

Have you had your operation cancelled because there was no bed available? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

Cancelled operations

In total 403 operations were cancelled at Ipswich Hospital last year. The reasons for the cancellations were:

Administration error - 20

No intensive care or high dependency unit bed available - 16

No anaesthetist - 1

No bed available - 188

No ward equipment - 14

No surgeon - 41

Theatre list rearranged - 4

Theatre staff shortage - 1

Earlier complication on theatre list - 40

Late start in theatres - 9

No theatre equipment - 5

Theatre list overbooked - 17

Ward staff shortage - 3

Other - 44

Suffolk County Council's view

SUFFOLK County Council is responsible for making sure patients have somewhere to go when they are well enough to leave hospital.

The council admitted more needed to be done to stop patients taking up beds at Ipswich Hospital and said as of Thursday four people were delayed in hospital because their social service care was delayed, with two due to be moved on yesterday.

A spokesman added: "All of us involved with helping people when they have recovered sufficiently to move on from hospital - the hospital itself, Suffolk Primary Care Trust, family doctors, the county council, and the many private and voluntary agencies we work with - need to redouble our efforts to reduce the numbers of patients who become 'Delayed Transfers of Care' even further.

“We have made significant strides over the past two years with the establishment of a multi-disciplinary discharge team working at the hospital, and we will continue to build on the strengths of this co-operation - as indeed we have at the James Paget and West Suffolk hospitals, where the so-called 'Delayed Transfers of Cares' are virtually a thing of the past.”