The number one reason for cancelled children’s operations at Blackpool Victoria Hospital last year was a lack of beds, it was revealed.
Of 264 scrapped routine and emergency operations – a seven-year high figure – 88 were down to “ward beds” being “unavailable”, figures released under freedom of information laws showed.
In the seven years prior, there were just eight called-off ops for under-18s blamed on a shortage of beds – with 21 also noted so far this year.
The figures are evidence of the impact NHS England advice to cancel minor operations had during last year’s winter crisis. A hospital spokesman said 53 cancellations were in November last year, with 19 in March too.
Interim director of operations Janet Barnsley said: “The trust works hard to make sure operations are booked at convenient times.
“We aim to provide three weeks’ notice and a choice of two dates when offering a date for operations and at the time of consultation discuss if there are any dates the patient cannot attend.”
Relative to the huge number of patients it sees every year, the number of children’s operations carried out in Blackpool is relatively low, with emergency cases usually sent to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Merseyside.
Of the 264 cancelled last year, 246 were ‘elective’ – or routine – with just 18 emergencies. Of those, just one was cancelled because of a bed shortage.
The second most common reason last year, at 55, was patients simply not turning up, while the third (31) was cancelled “at the patients’ request”, figures showed.