"Discectomy cancelled twice"

About: Addenbrooke's Hospital / General surgery

(as the patient),

I was booked in for a discectomy at Addenbrooke's in October. Having had my pre-operation appointments on a Monday, I got a phone call from Neurosurgery Admissions on Wednesday at 15: 30 stating that due to a "critical incident", my operation on the following day was cancelled and would be rescheduled for mid November.

This was frustrating as I can't currently walk more than 20 metres due to the impact of the slipped disc on my sciatic nerve and I'm in constant pain. I'm also off work as I can't work effectively as my office is in London and I can't sit down for long periods of time. The moving of the operation was however acceptable as the date was in the near term and I understood it to be that there was a "critical incident".

Yesterday at 12: 30, however, I received a phone call from Neurosurgery Admissions saying that my operation had to be cancelled. What concerned me more was that the person on the phone indicated that she had been cancelling all elective operations for the past 3 weeks due to bed shortages. I feel misled as this implies the situation was the same in October; the "critical incident" wasn't an urgent operation as the phrase implied, but a cancellation of all operations.

I am now in a situation where I don't have a new date - as admissions won't give me one - and I can't walk and therefore work.

Other than these incidents, the care I have received from your staff has been outstanding.

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Response from Nicola Hallows, Complaints and PALS Manager, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Thank you for taking the time to let us know about the difficulties you have experienced recently at Addenbrooke's Hospital. I am sorry to learn of your health problems and the distress caused by the cancellation of the procedure you need.

The Trust is incredibly busy at the moment and we have limited numbers of spare beds which we need to keep free for unplanned emergency cases. This is due to continued high demand through our emergency department and the large number of patients who have finished their care here but are unable to leave as they are waiting for community and social resources to be in place first. We understand these delays are frustrating for patients but we need to maintain safe staffing levels and we will continue to prioritise our most urgent patients.

I know that you have been in touch with our Patient Advice and Liaison Service, and I hope that we will be able to resolve your issues soon.

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Response from Addenbrooke's Hospital

Thank you for taking the time to provide feedback about your experiences at Addenbrooke's Hospital. I am very sorry to learn that your operation has had to be cancelled twice and that this is causing you serious problems. Unfortunately, there are times when elective operations unfortunately have to be cancelled due to capacity problems at the Trust. The Trust does not take the decision to cancel operations lightly, as we are aware of the many problems this causes for patients, however at times this is unavoidable if we do not have the capacity to safely care for our patients. In those circumstances, the most urgent cases are given priority. If you would like your individual circumstances to be looked into in more detail, please do not hesitate to contact the Patient Advice and Liaison Service on 01223 216756 or email pals@addenbrookes.nhs.uk. Patient Advice and Liaison Service

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