A political row has broken out after figures showed the number of cancelled operations at Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital has soared by more than 20 per cent this year.
Statistics published by NHS England show that a total of 313 elective operations have been cancelled at the Gayton Road side in the period from January to September this year.
The figure is up 58, about 23 per cent on the same period in 2013.
And the issue has been seized upon by local Labour politicians, who revealed at the weekend that the total of cancellations on the day of admission for July, August and September alone was up almost a third, from 68 to 89, on the same time last year.
Jo Rust, the party’s prospective parliamentary candidate for North West Norfolk at next year’s general election, said the figures showed the Government was “out of touch” with the pressures the NHS is facing on the ground.
She said: “People are not only waiting longer for operations but increasing numbers in North West Norfolk now face the appalling anxiety of preparing for treatment only to be let down just hours before surgery.
“There’s only one person to blame for the crisis in our local NHS and that’s David Cameron. He wasted £3 billion and caused chaos with a damaging NHS reorganisation he promised wouldn’t happen.”
Mrs Rust also claimed the situation had also been made worse by the closure of a theatre.
And she insisted that swift action is needed to resolve the crisis now before staff who were already feeling the effects of the problem were “run ragged” and the situation became worse.
She said: “We need to have properly resourced hospitals. We know our hospital hasn’t been properly funded in the way it needs.”
But North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham defended the government’s record on health.
He said: “The whole point of the reforms is to get more money to the sharp end and I don’t see how you can criticise that.”
He also insisted the Conservatives had kept their election pledge to increase funding for the NHS, while Labour had not made a similar promise before the last election.
Mr Bellingham said he wanted to know what the reasons were for the rise in cancellations, though he accepted there may be “perfectly understandable reasons” in some cases.
He said he was having regular meetings with the trust’s new management, whom he said are “very optimistic” about the hospital soon exiting special measures and the trust’s financial deficit.
He called on his political rivals to establish a similar working relationship with the hospital and added: “It’s making a staggeringly good recovery and we need to look at what’s going on there now.”
Hospital officials have so far not commented on the issue. But the latest row comes just a few days before members of several health unions are due to stage further industrial action at the hospital, as part of a continuing dispute with the government over pay.
A four-hour walkout is due to take place next Monday, November 24.