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Water leak and surgeon illness delay operations

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: October 25, 2012

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A WATER leak in an operating theatre, no beds being available and the surgeon or consultant being ill are some of the reasons why 182 operations were delayed at North Devon District Hospital in the past 12 months.

The figures have been revealed after the Journal submitted a Freedom of Information request to Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust asking for the number of delayed operations in the past year.

The response shows one of the operations was delayed for more than 28 days and the trust had to report it to the Department of Health.

However, during the same time period the hospital carried out 12,662 operations, including 1,216 emergency, 879 trauma and 10,567 elective operations. (This figure does not include endoscopys or private patients).

Other reasons for operations being delayed include operation lists overrunning due to emergencies taking priority, the operation list starting late due to ward delays and patients requesting a specific surgeon who was not available.

Some of the procedures being delayed included knee replacements, hysterectomies and hernia repairs.

Trust spokesman Jim Bray said the water leak occurred in the theatre's roof and was a one off event in April. It meant a day of operations had to be delayed while it was repaired.

Mr Bray also said a medical ward was closed due to norovirus on March 1 meaning four operations were cancelled.

He added: "We take all cancellations very seriously.

"Every time we have to cancel an operation, it is done as a last resort. We do all we can to avoid cancellations but there are occasions when there are no alternatives.

"There is a national target relating to the numbers of patients cancelled as a percentage of elective surgery and we achieve the standard set.

"We constantly evaluate the number of beds available and how patients flow through the hospital, from admission through to discharge.

"During the past six months we have established a patient flow project group, including doctors, nurses, allied health professionals and senior managers, which aims to improve the flow of patients through the hospital.

"This includes actions to increase the number of patients going home in the morning and to reduce discharge delays."

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