60 op­er­a­tions can­celled amid bed cri­sis at hospi­tals

Belfast Telegraph - - NEWS - BY DAVID YOUNG

MORE than 60 sched­uled op­er­a­tions — in­clud­ing cancer surgery — had to be can­celled across two ma­jor North­ern Ire­land hospi­tals this week.

Pa­tients who were to re­ceive elec­tive surgery at Craigavon Area Hospi­tal and Daisy Hill in Newry were turned away due to what a spokes­woman called “ex­treme bed pres­sures” at the two fa­cil­i­ties.

A South­ern Health Trust spokes­woman last night of­fered an apol­ogy for any in­con­ve­nience caused.

She said: “A num­ber of planned sur­gi­cal lists at Craigavon Area Hospi­tal and Daisy Hill Hospi­tal were can­celled on Tues­day and Wed­nes­day due to ex­treme bed pres­sures. Th­ese in­cluded a small num­ber of ‘red flag’ pro­ce­dures.

“Emer­gency surgery con­tin­ued as nor­mal.

“We are very sorry for the in­con­ve­nience and dis­tress caused to pa­tients and we will do ev­ery­thing we can to re-sched­ule th­ese op­er­a­tions as soon as pos­si­ble, with pri­or­ity given to the most ur­gent surgery.” Ex­treme bed pres­sures are caused when fewer pa­tients are leav­ing than are be­ing ad­mit­ted.

Most NHS hospi­tals op­er­ate with around 90-95% of beds oc­cu­pied at any­one time, so small changes in de­mand for ad­mis­sion, or de­lays in pa­tients be­ing dis­charged, can have im­me­di­ate and se­ri­ous knock-on ef­fects.

In Jan­uary, Craigavon Area Hospi­tal also had to resched­ule surgery due to pres­sures beyond its con­trol.

This week’s dif­fi­cul­ties at the South­ern Trust hospi­tals at Craigavon and Newry come as pres­sures on the NHS are in­ten­si­fy­ing.

North­ern Ire­land’s Health and So­cial Care Board es­ti­mates that the health ser­vice here will have to make more than a bil­lion pounds in sav­ings over the next two years. Ear­lier this year, the Depart­ment of Health asked North­ern Ire­land’s health trusts to make £70m in sav­ings this year.

But just this week, em­bat­tled NHS providers re­ceived re­prieve when £40m in money re­dis­tributed from other de­part­ments was made avail­able to them — eas­ing the im­me­di­ate fi­nan­cial pres­sure.

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