Operations switched to ease pressure

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HOSPITAL chiefs in Sheffield are set to cut the number of non-urgent operations that have to be cancelled during the busy winter period by carrying out some knee and hip replacements at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital instead of the Northern General.

More than 140,000 operations and surgical procedures were carried out last year at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals Trust, but about 800 operations had to be cancelled at short notice, usually because the patient was either not fit to undergo surgery or an emergency patient took priority.

Plans have now been approved to carry out the knee and hip replacements at the Royal Hallamshire rather than the Northern General Hospital, from this month.

The proposals should allow some 40 beds to be freed up at the Northern General Hospital.

Paul Sutton, clinical director for orthopaedics said: “The last thing we ever want to do is to cancel anyone’s operation, as we know who stressful this is for the patient and their families.

“However, particularly in the winter period, we face a constant struggle because the increasing and unpredictable rise in emergency patients means we regrettably sometimes have to cancel planned operations which are non-urgent.

“There has been a six per cent increase in the number of emergency patients being admitted to Sheffield Hospitals over the last five years, and last year the increase was closer to 11 per cent.

“This is set against the backdrop of carrying out more operations every year. In 2008/9 we carried out 132,000 surgical procedures, compared to last year when the number rose by more than 9,000 to 141,000.

“We have been exploring ways in which we can improve this situation for a number of months and we now have a potential solution which hopefully will dramatically cut the numbers of operations we have to cancel.”