No operations have been cancelled at Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital since the opening of a new specialist unit, managers have said.
The claim was made in response to newly-released figures which showed that more than 250 patients had surgery cancelled at the QEH in the first nine months of last year.
The statistics also showed that more than 900 patients had operations cancelled in the two years prior to the start of 2012.
But trust bosses say the opening of the hospital’s new elective care unit last month is already having an impact.
Deputy chief executive Mark Henry said yesterday: “Since opening our new elective care unit in early December we have not had to cancel any operations as a result of bed shortages.”
Reports this week revealed that 251 patients had had their operations cancelled in the first nine months of 2012.
However, there had been a falling trend in the rate from 498 cancellations in 2010 to 445 in 2011. The trust has confirmed that the statistics are accurate.
The 44-bed unit, which was formed by combining the old Denver and Elm wards, has been specifically set aside to accommodate patients having elective, or non-emergency, surgery.
The trust says it means patients can be confident their operations will go ahead as scheduled without being affected by other pressures facing the hospital.
Mr Henry said: “We monitor cancelled operations and bed occupancy as routine.
“Operations for non-emergency cases could be cancelled for a variety of reasons.
“One of the principal reasons is when emergencies arise where other patients have to be treated for potentially life-threatening conditions or if there is a sudden influx of patients needing a bed while they have urgent treatment.
A hospital spokesman also pointed out that more than 16,000 operations are carried out each year at the QEH and any decision to cancel surgery was taken on the basis of the clinical need of the individual patient.
He also insisted that an emergency operation would never be cancelled.
Meanwhile any patient who does have their operation put off must have it rescheduled within a maximum of 28 days and sooner wherever possible.
“The important issue is that it is a consultant who decides whether or not an operation should be postponed. It is not a management decision”, he said.