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Cancelled ops rank among highest in UK

PUBLISHED: 12:18 28 August 2008 | UPDATED: 10:02 23 August 2010

AN NHS trust recorded the sixth highest number of operation cancellations in the country because of shortages of staff, beds and equipment, according to new figures. Government figures obtained by the Conservatives show Dartford and Gravesham NHS trust a

AN NHS trust recorded the sixth highest number of operation cancellations in the country because of shortages of staff, beds and equipment, according to new figures.

Government figures obtained by the Conservatives show Dartford and Gravesham NHS trust axed 2,587 operations last year.

Obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, the figures also show the trust has the UK's fourth highest number of repeat cancellations at 483.

Adam Holloway, Conservative MP for Gravesham, said: "It is a concern that so many patients made cancellations and I will try and talk about that with Darent Valley's chief executive Mark Devlin next week.

"When the government asked for their cancellation statistics they gave them the total number of cancellations. They included the operations that had been cancelled by people as well as by the hospital, so about 70 per cent of their 2,587 cancellations were made by patients."

Across the country, more than 100,000 NHS operations were cancelled last year for non-clinical reasons, almost twice the number reported in official statistics.

One patient referred to by the Conservatives had an operation cancelled 21 times and a third of trusts cancelled an operation for the same patient at least three times.

Chief Executive Mark Devlin, of Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust, said: "As a hospital we promote patient choice and are very flexible in offering admission dates which are convenient for patients. The amount of rescheduling involved in this process has been reflected in the figures that were recently published.

"In a small percentage of cases the hospital has had to cancel operations at short notice, which is always regrettable. This can happen for a number of reasons including emergency cases, or another case overrunning.

"However, there are still some patients who do not attend scheduled operations without letting the hospital know."

Shadow Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, said: "Having an operation cancelled can cause huge distress for patients and their families. It's simply unacceptable that these figures are so high - and that the government is spinning the official statistics to try to hide them."

Adam Holloway added: "Darent Valley is being over honest and not realising what the information was for. It has nothing to do with the Conservatives spinning information. They just gave the full picture without breaking the information down."

Nationally, 400 operations were cancelled because the patient's notes had been lost, over 10,000 because of bed shortages, nearly 4,000 because of equipment failure and over 11,000 because of staffing shortages.

elizabeth.thornton@archant.co.uk

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