Belfast Telegraph

Southern Trust cancels over 200 operations over Christmas

By Michael Sheils McNamee

The Southern Health and Social Care Trust cancelled more than 220 operations over the Christmas period.

Following questions to the trust from SDLP MLA Sinead Bradley, it emerged 222 planned operations were cancelled in the period between 1 December 2017 and 4 January 2018.

A spokeswoman for the Southern Health and Social Care Trust said the surgeries were cancelled due to "significantly higher than expected numbers of people admitted to our hospitals".

This included "exceptionally high numbers" of patients admitted to Craigavon Area Hospital on December 19 and 20, with a number of surgeries cancelled to allow the hospital to deal with the demand.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Mrs Bradley said: "Behind each of these numbers is a personal story, some of which I have been made aware of through my SDLP constituency office. 

"Patients have made practical arrangements, they are physically, psychologically and emotionally prepared for their operation only to be let down at the eleventh hour. 

"I will be seeking assurances from the Southern Health and Social Care Trust that all these rescheduled operations will happen quickly and a guarantee that all those patients effected will not face any further cancellations."

These cancelled operations come amid growing winter pressure on the NHS in Northern Ireland and across the UK.

Mrs Bradley said a number of constituents she had spoken to said they were presenting to the Emergency Department after being unable to access GP or out-of-hour services.

Last week it was revealed that on a day in October - ahead of the peak winter season - Ulster Hospital in Dundonald saw 332 patients, the highest ever number in a single day.

"It must be stressed that in all the cases shared with me, many of which are deeply concerning and frustrating, I have heard nothing but praise for the over worked health care staff who continue to look after patients under such difficult circumstances,” said Mrs Bradley.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for the Trust added: "We would wish to apologise to our patients who have been affected by this situation and we are working hard to reschedule everyone."

"However our capacity is still limited due to the high number of ill patients who require beds and our hospitals continue to be under pressure."

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