Dozens of operations cancelled at Sherwood Forest Hospitals Trust at end of 2021

King’s Mill Hospital in Sutton saw dozens of operations cancelled at the last minute at the end of 2021, figures show.

By Jon Ball
Thursday, 17th February 2022, 11:03 am

The ‘dreadful impact’ of the coronavirus pandemic can be seen in the cancellation of thousands of planned surgeries across England, according to The Patients Association.

NHS England figures for Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Trust – which runs King's Mill, as well as Newark and Mansfield Community hospitals – show 64 pre-booked operations were postponed on or after the day the patient was admitted between October and December 2021.

NHS rules state patients who have their operations cancelled at the last minute must be offered a new operation date within four weeks.

Across England, NHS providers cancelled 19,300 elective surgeries for non-clinical reasons over the three-month period.

However, six of the affected SFH patients had to wait more than 28 days for a new date.

Dale Travis, SFH head of operations, said: "During earlier stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, in line with national guidance, we postponed some planned activity to focus on the increase in people coming into our hospitals who were seriously ill with Covid-19. We prioritised emergency operations and cancer care but unfortunately some patients have faced delays for other treatments, and we are sorry about this.

"Since that initial wave, SFH continues to work hard to manage waiting times and our patient treatment activity has now returned to pre-pandemic levels.

“Even in the past three months and, despite the most recent Omicron wave when we experienced another sharp surge in hospital admissions, we were able to maintain our planned activity at pre-pandemic levels of activity and I would like to thank the remarkable efforts of all the teams across SFH and our wider health and social care partners for their continuing commitment to delivering care to all our patients as quickly as possible.

King's Mill Hospital, Sutton.

“We currently have some of the lowest number of patients waiting long periods in the NHS and are committed over the next year to increasing our activity further to bring waiting times down.”

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Breaches

Across England, NHS providers cancelled 19,300 elective surgeries for non-clinical reasons over the period.

This equated to 1.1 per cent of all activity – a similar proportion to the same quarter in 2019-20, prior to the pandemic.

However, the percentage of patients waiting more than a month for operations to be rescheduled rose sharply from 9 per cent to 24 per cent nationally, meaning there were more than 4,600 breaches of the NHS standard.

Common reasons for last-minute cancellations include a lack of hospital beds, surgeons unavailable, emergency cases taking precedence, equipment failure and staff shortages.

Rachel Power, association chief executive, said: “For individual patients, having long-awaited surgery cancelled at the last minute can be devasting, especially if they've no idea when they will finally be called in.”

She said it was vital patients are supported and kept up to date with how long their wait for treatment would be.

An NHS spokeswoman said there is no doubt the service has faced significant pressures over winter, balancing vital patient services with the emergence of the Omicron variant of Covid-19, record high staff absences and the delivery of booster jabs.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said the Government’s plan to tackle the Covid-19 backlog and deliver long-term reform would mean 99 per cent of patients wait less than a year for treatment by 2024.

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