Several patients face delays after operations cancelled at King’s Mill Hospital

Several patients who had their operations cancelled at Sutton’s King’s Mill Hospital over three months were still waiting to be treated four weeks later, figures show.

The Patients Association said delayed surgeries are distressing for patients, and called on the Government to provide the NHS with more resources to reduce cancellations.

NHS England figures show 26 pre-booked operations at Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Trust – which runs King’s Mill, Mansfield Community and Newark hospitals – were postponed on or after the day the patient was admitted between April and June.

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The NHS aims to offer all people who have routine surgery cancelled at the last minute for non-clinical reasons another date within 28 days.

Sherwood Forest Hospitals Trust runs King's Mill Hospital in Sutton.
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However, of the patients who had procedures cancelled at SFH, eight had to wait more than four weeks for a new date.

Meanwhile, in the first three months of the year, 58 surgeries were cancelled, with 13 patients left waiting longer than the target time for a follow-up.

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Between April and June 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic, one patient was not treated within this window.

Rachel Eddie, SFH chief operating officer, said: “Demand for NHS services remains exceptionally high across the country right now and we know there is a patient behind each and every one of these statistics

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“While we conducted more than 2,400 operations in this same period, we understand the impact delays can have on patients’ lives and I would like to apologise to those patients who did experience delays and offer personal assurance to them that our hard-working NHS colleagues are continuing to do all they can to ensure patients can access the treatment they deserve as quickly as possible.”

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Across England, 23.6 per cent of hospital patients were not treated with 28 days of a cancelled surgery – up from 23 per cent the previous quarter, and one of the highest rates since records began in 1994.

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

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Rachel Power, association chief executive, said: “It can be distressing and frustrating for a patient when a surgical procedure is cancelled.

“This can be made worse if the patient doesn't know when the procedure will be rescheduled.”

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The NHS faces a challenge treating people waiting and those newly seeking care and, Ms Power said, needs more staff and resources to do that.

She said: "Immediate investment in social care is needed to enable hospitals to safely discharge medically fit patients into the community, which would increase the NHS's ability to treat more patients, while a long-term work strategy for both the NHS and social care is urgently needed."

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The Royal College of Surgeons of England said long delays leave patients in pain, unable to work or live independently, and prolonged waits for surgery also risk further deterioration.

An NHS spokeswoman said two-year waits for treatment have been ‘virtually eliminated’ and it will now focus on ending 18-month waits for care.

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The Department of Health and Social Care said it has commissioned NHS England to develop a long-term workforce strategy and is reforming adult social care, with £5.4 billion investment over three years.