Routine operations axed at short notice by NHS trust in Calderdale

Calderdale Royal Hospital
Calderdale Royal Hospital

Calderdale and Huddesfield NHS Foundation Trust has seen the biggest increase iin the number of routine operations cancelled because of a shotrage of beds as healthcare trusts admit they are facing ‘unprecedented demand’ nationwide.

Thousands of routine operations have been cancelled across Yorkshire and the Humber. At least 3,475 operations have been cancelled over the past three years because of a shortage of beds for patients.

Staffing shortages have been cited as another primary reason for delays, along with a lack of equipment and, as a number of trusts see an increase in the past year alone, experts say greater investment is urgently needed in healthcare services nationwide.

“Bed shortages are a symptom of the wider pressure being placed on services as years of under-investment and rising demand means services have been pushed to breaking point,” said British Medical Association Yorkshire regional council chair Dr Rajeev Gupta. “It is unacceptable that patients across Yorkshire should be left to face uncertainty over the future of their health care as cancelled operations can cause unnecessary disruption and stress. Now more than ever, the government must provide the necessary investment in both health and social care to alleviate the current pressures on services so patients can get the care they both expect and deserve.”

The investigation, based on a series of Freedom Of Information requests to hospital trusts across Yorkshire and the Humber, found that at least 3,457 routine operations were cancelled over the past three years because of a shortage of beds.

Of the region’s trusts which responded, four admitted there had a steep rise in the past year alone in the number of cancelled operations because of a shortage of beds, with many also citing staff shortages.

A wide disparity has emerged across the region as new figures reveal the extent of cancellations to routine operations because of a shortage of beds.

In some parts of Yorkshire, hospital trusts have seen a fall in the number of patients whose operations have been put on hold. But in others there was a sharp rise, with some admitting the NHS faces “unprecedented demand” nationwide.

Ten of the region’s hospital trusts responded to FOI requests around routine operations cancelled because of a shortage of beds. Of these, six had seen a fall year on year to March, with four admitting they had seen a rise of between 68 and 455 per cent.

Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust, which saw the biggest increase, said this may have been down to a more thorough way in which it recorded its figures, rather than a marked rise in cancellations. But, it added, there were pressures.

“Last year nationally there was significant demand on NHS and social care services which we also saw locally; this impacted on the availability of beds for routine surgery as we prioritised access to our most vulnerable patients,” the trust said in a statement.

“We always do everything we can to avoid cancelling an operation at short notice as can be seen by our overall volume in comparison to the national picture.”