Norfolk hospital one of the worst in the country for urgent operation cancellations

James Paget HospitalGeneric hospitalAccident and emergencyAmbulanceByline: Sonya DuncanCopyright: Ar

James Paget HospitalGeneric hospitalAccident and emergencyAmbulanceByline: Sonya DuncanCopyright: Archant 2016 - Credit: Sonya Duncan

More than 100 urgent and potentially life-saving operations at one of the county’s hospitals have been cancelled over the last year.

New data has revealed 14 urgent operations were axed at James Paget University Hospital (JPUH) in Gorleston in October alone - making it one of the worst performing health trusts in England for the measure.

In the last 12 months JPUH has cancelled 104 key surgeries, which could include swift action needed to save patients’ lives, limbs and organs.

More than two thirds of the country’s trusts did not rearrange a single urgent procedure over the same time period - including the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) in King’s Lynn, both of which have not cancelled any urgent operations in the last year.

Cancellations can be due to shortages of beds or staff as well as operations running over time and administrative errors.

The figures, from NHS Digital, also showed two patients at JPUH have had an operation cancelled twice in the space of just four weeks, over the past year.

And the trust cancelled more surgeries this year than in the same month in 2016, when 9 were stopped.

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The figures may spark concern given the winter months are fast approaching, when more pressure is expected to be placed on NHS services.

Between last December, January and February 24 urgent operations were cancelled.

The chief executive of NHS England Simon Stevens recently warned ministers that waiting times would continue to rise unless more money was put into the health service, after the chancellor Philip Hammond promised £350 million in the Budget to help this winter.

Anna Hills, director of governance at JPUH said: “We always try to keep cancellations to a minimum, but pressures in demand and capacity mean there are times when operations may have to be rescheduled. Cancellations are reviewed and in several of these cases an emergency operation had to take priority. Others were day case surgeries where there was a lack of theatre time, due to previous procedures.

“The definition of ‘urgent’ operations includes cases where a stable patient requires intervention for a condition that is not an immediate threat to life, limb or organ survival and surgical procedures planned or booked in advance of routine admission to hospital.

“We work to reschedule procedures as soon as possible, but recognise that this can have an effect on patients and their families.

“To put this in context, teams at the James Paget carry out thousands of operations each year, and we constantly work to improve the service we provide both in terms of efficiency and patient care.”