10 August, 2017
It is reported in the Times that it is the first time that there has been more than 4000 cancelled urgent operations in the year from July to June, with the highest number in June.
"Urgent" operations include those that must be done within hours to save the patient's life, limb or organ. They will also include operations on unstable patients who require intervention within days. An operation recorded as cancelled must not have been rescheduled within 24 hours.
This can have a catastrophic effect on outcome when patients are left waiting. Their symptoms progress, their current condition deteriorates and anxiety is enhanced. This can lead to a weakened condition, a worse outcome, the need for intensive or prolonged after care at a greater cost to the patient and the NHS.
The RCS have commented that when urgent operations are cancelled it is often because there are no free beds, either due to increased emergency admissions or slow discharge of patients who are fit to leave hospital but have no community care or home support to go to. "If we are to see a significant improvement, the extra funding Government has promised for social care will need to be channelled in ways that takes some of the pressure off the NHS".
There was also an impetus towards hiring a greater number of British nurses after Brexit to fill gaps left by foreign workers to reduce rising agency staff bills.
A growing population and greater demand on services inevitably add to the problem.
For further information please contact solicitor Leonie Millard in our Clinical Negligence department via email or phone on 01254 770517. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.