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Ops cancelled 'over A&E crisis'

Record numbers of elective operations at hospitals are being cancelled as a result of pressure on accident and emergency departments, a senior surgeon has warned.

Figures from NHS England show more than 220 operations a day were cancelled with less than 24 hours' notice during the first three months of 2013, the Observer said.

Professor Norman Williams, president of the Royal College of Surgeons, believes that the current crisis in accident and emergency may be "forcing some hospitals to drop the ball on elective surgery".

He told the Observer that operating theatres are being left idle because there are not enough beds available for post-operative care.

"The fact that elective operations are being cancelled for non-clinical reasons is of deep concern to surgeons. The situation where patients have to wait longer for their treatment is highly stressful for them and their families and, in some cases, their condition could deteriorate," he said.

"It is therefore vital that access to surgery must be provided at a time when patients can benefit most from the results.

"We hear from our members that the current crisis in emergency departments in parts of the country may be forcing some hospitals to drop the ball on elective surgery. If this is the case, action must be taken to tackle the detrimental effect of burgeoning emergency care and sometimes inappropriate admissions on the whole hospital system."

The paper also reported that the NHS England figures show the number of urgent operations cancelled every month has doubled under the coalition, from 172 in August 2010 to 401 in April this year.

A spokesman for the Department of Health told the paper: "We need to put these figures in the context of the millions of operations performed by our NHS each year.

"Our NHS is performing well, with more operations carried out last year than ever before, and only 0.9% of all NHS operations being cancelled."

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