PATIENTS in Gwent who have had planned surgery cancelled in recent months, are being asked to tell health watchdogs about their experience.
The move by Aneurin Bevan Community Health Council (CHC) has been triggered by a spate of complaints from patients about operations being cancelled, sometimes at short notice, and on more than one occasion.
“Such cancellations are always distressing for the patient and often inconvenient for friends and family,” said CHC chief officer Cathy O’Sullivan.
“We would be interested to hear from people who have had a recent experience of a cancelled operation so we can assess the problem.”
The investigation is the latest by the CHC, which recently revealed that some patients in Gwent are dipping into their life savings to fund a range of operations, rather than face delays and uncertainty on NHS waiting lists.
Operations are cancelled for a variety of reasons, but one of the biggestin recent months has been the pressure on surgical beds caused by increases in medical admissions. Last winter the problem was particularly acute in Gwent, and its effects continued through the spring and into the summer, contributing to waiting time backlogs.
During January-April 2013 inclusive, 525 routine operations were cancelled at Gwent hospitals across six specialities, and that figure had risen to 715 by the end of July. General surgery, trauma and orthopaedics, and ENT (ear, nose and throat) were particularly affected, accounting for 561 cancellations over that seven months. Extra beds have been, and will continue to be, opened in the area’s hospitals this winter to cope with surges in demand, in line with a winter planBut the CHC is concerned that a problem remains, and that some patients are being cancelled more than once.
Anyone wishing to tell the CHC about the circumstances of a cancelled operation are invited to complete an on-line questionnaire on its website at communityhealthcouncils.org.uk/aneurinbevan/
Alternatively, details can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or given by phone on 01633 838516. The CHC will present its findings to the health board.