Nottingham operation cancellations 'will not be repeated'

The cancellation of hundreds of operations in Nottingham will not be repeated, an NHS boss has promised.

Nottingham University Hospitals Trust admitted 3,283 operations were cancelled in the first half of 2012 - more than anywhere else in England.

A report has found no single reason or person was to blame but a reorganisation between two hospital sites caused problems.

The trust's chief executive Dr Peter Homa said lessons had been learned.

Problems emerged in early 2012 after dozens of complaints from patients over last-minute cancellations at the Queen's Medical Centre (QMC).

Emergency services

Andrew Smith, the brother of Lincolnshire cancer patient Gillian Moulds, was so incensed when her treatment was delayed for the third time he confronted then Health Secretary Andrew Lansley.

In April the trust apologised and said it was working to reduce cancelled operations.

Dr Homa said: "We have tried to be very up-front about what we got right and what we got wrong and what we are doing to put things right.

"I can assure everyone that we have made sure that all our plans for this coming winter take on all the recommendations in the report and we are confident there will be no repetition.

Image caption The trust had been transferring surgical services between its two sites

"In fairness, the winter we are talking about was the first we had the concentration of emergency services at Queens and the report acknowledges that with the best will in the world we could not have anticipated the difficulties we got into."

The report noted that in April 2011 the trust "reconfigured" some of its services between QMC and the City Hospital.

The QMC changed its focus to dealing with unplanned emergency care and the City to planned care and treatment.

Dozens of beds were cut at both sites.

Improved recording

The report found this process was not entirely smooth and impacted on an already "stressed patient-flow system".

In the winter of 2011/12, the trust said it experienced "unprecedented surges" in the number of emergency department admissions.

The combination of these key factors led to a system "less able to cope with extreme day-to-day variations in demand and we took much longer to recover from very busy days than in pervious years", the trust added.

The report also recommended improved planning to take better account of day-to-day variation in patient numbers, rather than relying on past averages.

Officials at the trust said an extra 68 emergency beds had been made available at the QMC and ways of recording cancellations were also being improved to make sure problems could be identified earlier.

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