"Canceled Operation"

About: Royal Albert Edward Infirmary / General surgery

(as a relative),

My neice,  suffers from mental health problems. As a result she has life threatening heart and reproductive problems. On the psychological side she has repeatedly been failed by the "system" because of ridiculously long delays in getting treatment. She's been on a list for surgery for some time and finally she had an appointment for it today. She arrived at the hospital at the time requested (noon) and around 2pm was told she was 2nd in line. She's just (some 5 hours later) been told the op is cancelled because there are no beds. This is unacceptable, even for a patient who does not have the complex health and psychological issues that my neice has. It beggars belief that at 2pm they did not know they didn't have a bed for her and I think this is a gross failure on the part of the NHS.

My niece waited a long time for the operation at Wigan hospital. By the time she finally got an appointment for it she had been given an appointment for her psychological assessment/follow up regarding medicines which were not agreeing with her. Although she had waited months for that psych appointment and is an extremely vulnerable patient, she turned it down and had to get back in the long queue for another date, because it is felt by her GP and herself that the surgery should take priority.

As a close knit family, her husband took 2 days off work to be with her. So did her mother and so did one of her brothers. These are people who can ill afford to be off work, both because of their workloads as well as the financial loss of earnings.

Her GP is concerned that this has gone on so long and the whole situation has had a crippling effect on her depression.

Aside from the stress and upset to my neice and her family, I am not surprised that the NHS are, in my opinion, buckling under the pressure they are on, but consider this:

My neice was one of 2 women scheduled for the same operation. That day, she was seen by her surgeon. She was seen by the anaethetist. She was seen to by the various nursing/admissions staff. The theatre was ready and waiting. What a lot of really expensive resources were wasted all because there wasn't a bed available.

I understand that it is difficult to get certain patients discharged when they do not need to be hospitalised any longer. I am referring to those who are vulnerable and need ongoing care. But surely it is far more expensive to have wasted all the resources I have detailed above than it would have been if a place such as a care home or a service such as live-in care had been provided.

I don't for one minute think it is an easy task for the NHS to handle the volumes of patients they do but it seems to me that the whole service could be more effectively run if there was better communication and liaison between the NHS and social care departments.

I hope that this issue can be taken up seriously by the NHS.

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Response from Susan Heighway, Patient Relations / PALS Manager , Patient Relations / PALS, Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust

We were sorry to learn of the cancellation of your nieces operation. It is not something that we take lightly here at the Trust but unfortunately this can happen in an Acute Trust due to emergencies and unavailability of beds. I do hope that she has now been given another date. As you have not divulged who your niece is I am unable to look into this particular case but if you wish to get in touch with the Patient Relations Department I would be happy to do this with the appropriate consent.

Kind regards

  • {{helpful}} {{helpful == 1 ? "person thinks" : "people think"}} this response is helpful

Update posted by Disillusioned relative (a relative)

I did give follow up info with my niece's details. She did get another date and she has had the operation. She had to cancel another appointment for skin cancer and she also had to attend the postponed psych appointment on the same day as her operation. As I said I do understand the pressure hospitals are under but I feel resolving the shortage of beds would surely be cheaper than the cost of the theatre not being used and having professional staff (surgeon/anaethetist/theatre staff) on duty waiting.