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Rise in emergencies causes more than 200 operations to be cancelled in two months at hospital

PUBLISHED: 16:12 30 November 2018 | UPDATED: 17:36 30 November 2018

More than 200 elective surgeries were cancelled in the space of two months at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Picture: Bill Smith

More than 200 elective surgeries were cancelled in the space of two months at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Picture: Bill Smith

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A spike in emergency procedures at one of the region’s hospitals has meant patients awaiting pre-booked surgeries face cancellations and hold-ups.

Mark Davies, chief executive of the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital. Photo: NNUHMark Davies, chief executive of the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital. Photo: NNUH

The trust board of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital heard on Friday how an increased number of emergency procedures has meant fewer elective surgeries have been able to make place.

This has contributed to a £4.9m shortfall in income for the hospital so far this year, but also that patients awaiting non-emergency surgeries are frequently having to reschedule.

More than 200 elective operations were cancelled in September and October, 98 in September and 110 the following month.

The number of cancelled operations represented 1.2% of all elective operations.

John Hennessey, chief finance officer for the hospital, said: “We are doing more emergency work, which affects our ability to do elective work and this has a financial impact on the hospital.
It would be crude to say elective work is more profitable, but this is what we are working with.”

This also contributes to the hospital being left with a £55m hole in its budget.

Board members also heard how the hospital was planning for the challenges of winter, with chief executive Mark Davies praising the plans but saying there is “no room for complacency”.

Among the preparations for the winter months is the installation of new temporary building - described in reports as a “Discharge Suite” - which will provide patients a place to wait as they prepare to be sent home, thus freeing beds up quicker.

This facility is scheduled to be open from December 17.

Mr Davies said: “The plan we have is good, but we have to remain focussed. There is absolutely no room for complacency.”

At the board meeting, directors also approved a draft digital strategy for the hospital, which has been identified as one of the least “digitally mature” in the country.

The proposals for the five-year strategy include giving patients the opportunity to access their records electronically and voice-activated technology for staff.

Meanwhile, members were updated on the progress of the hospital’s flu vaccination programme, with 75pc of staff at the hospital having now received their jabs.

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