Patients facing surgery at Blackpool Victoria Hospital are seeing their operations cancelled at the last minute as winter pressures on the NHS continue to bite.
Hospital chiefs at the Vic had to cancel 58 procedures last week alone due to “urgent care pressures”.
A Blackpool father-of-two was due to undergo a vasectomy later in January but has now been told it could be months before his operation.
He said: “I called the hospital to see if they had a set date for my operation but when I got through the lady on the other end of the phone said they had been meaning to call me and I was on a list of patients they had to get in touch with.
“They said due to a backlog and staffing problems, mine wouldn’t be going ahead and it would now be sometime in the spring. That could be the beginning of March or the end of May, nobody knows.”
It comes after The Gazette revealed how the A&E department at the Vic was struggling to cope with a surge in demand from patients in December.
Waiting times rose with just 44.2 per cent of people seen within the target of four hours – one of the worst records in the country.
Record sickness levels among staff have exacerbated the problems with the worst of the winter weather still to come.
Last month, hospital chiefs sent out an urgent plea on social media for any available staff to cover shifts with “enhanced rates available”.
Janet Barnsley, Director of Operations for Planned Care at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We have unfortunately had to reschedule a small number of elective operations due to urgent care pressures on the system locally.
“Fifty eight elective procedures had to be postponed last week but 350 went ahead as planned.
“Some of these operations were done in dedicated day case surgeries not appropriate to be used as escalation areas.
“Where possible we informed patients before the day of surgery, but unfortunately we are not always able to do this. We work exceptionally hard to ensure we don’t cancel a procedure because we know how frustrating this is for patients and their families who have waited for their operation and we apologise for this.
“It is regrettable, but occasionally we have to make these decisions, sometimes at short notice, to ensure we deliver the safest care possible to those in the greatest need.
"The patients who have had operations cancelled will be rescheduled as soon as possible."
The NHS was a key battleground in the recent General Election with both the Conservatives and Labour putting it at the heart of their campaigns.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Improving the NHS is a priority for the Prime Minister and a record cash boost worth £33.9bn extra by 2023/24 is being enshrined in law by the Government.”