"Questions about my cancelled operation"

About: Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital (Wonford) / Trauma and orthopaedics

(as the patient),

I was booked in for early June 2015 to have my little finger fused after a fracture/dislocation in November 2014. I arrived at 7:25AM and was given a gown, stockings, name tags etc and was told I was 2nd on the list. At 12PM, a surgeon approached me and said due to having an emergency in theatre, my op was being cancelled! I had arranged childcare, time away from a possible new job and a day off for my partner.

No-one on the ward kept us informed of anything until 5 mins before when I was told I was next down, but then was told it had been cancelled.

My questions are this:

1. Why drop someone who is 2nd on the list rather than someon who is at the end of it?

2. Why are the wards not kept up to date with information?

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Response from Peter Brain, Volunteer, Healthwatch Devon

Dear 'LoopyDevon 37'

The comments and responses on the web-site of Patient Opinion are shared with us at Healthwatch.

Thank you for responding through Patient Opinion to what was an unsatisfactory experience for you. We are building a picture of the provision of services in Devon and these comments should help the NHS and other providers develop and improve their services.

If you wish to discuss any health or social care issues with us in confidence, including seeking advice or information about services, please call 0800 520 0640, or email info@healthwatchdevon.co.uk or go on-line to www.healthwatchdevon.co.uk.

Yours sincerely

Peter Brain


Healthwatch Devon is the consumer champion for Health and Social Care in Devon.

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Update posted by LoopyDevon37 (the patient)

Operation is now booked for June PM. According to hospital I am first on the list! Will update accordingly.

Response from Rebecca McGuffog, Patient Engagement and Experience Officer, Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust

We are sorry to hear of your experience, and thank you for taking the time to share them with us. In order to ensure that all of our patients are kept safe, we have to prioritise our operating time by clinical priority. As a result, it is sometimes necessary to cancel patients in order to operate on a patient who requires surgery urgently. This is only done once all alternative options have been explored, as we understand that cancelling surgery is always distressing and inconvenient. If this is necessary, the decision about which patient to cancel will be made primarily based on clinical urgency. Unfortunately this sometimes means cancelling a patient who is listed early in the day, if the patients later on the list require surgery more urgently. The theatre teams will always endeavour to keep the ward well informed about changing events, but situations can sometimes change rapidly, resulting in patients having to be cancelled very shortly before they are due to go to theatre. We understand how distressing and inconvenient this can be, so decisions such as this are taken very seriously and will only be made once all other alternatives have been explored. If you would like to discuss this further please do contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) on 01392 402093 so that we can investigate in more detail the circumstances which led up to your cancellation.

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