"Cancelled operation due to lack of beds"

About: Worcestershire Royal Hospital / Gynaecology

(as the patient),

A Patient's perspective

8th July – visit GP, prolapsed bladder confirmed. Operation needed. Use Choose and Book to find appointment. I note it says 'under NHS constitution you have the right to start non-emergency, consultant led treatment within 18 weeks from referral …....which takes it to 11th November – that's OK.

25th July – attend clinic; after examination told I need a hysterectomy as well as vaginal repair; a bit of a shock. Waiting time likely to be about 3 months.

Mid September – ring consultant's secretary to give holiday dates. She confirms operation likely to be late October or probably into November.

24th October – attend pre-op clinic no major delays and parking OK. Told I will hear from consultant's secretary in next week or so to arrange a date for operation. So far things seem to be going to plan and I expect it to be in early to mid November.

22nd November – finally get to speak to consultant's secretary after 4 phone calls. Point out it was over 4 weeks since pre op and over 18 weeks from referral so she agrees to investigate. Rang back within the hour – my notes found in anaesthetics department – and offered date of 16th December for operation. Not ideal but we have not made any plans for Christmas. When I was referred in early July I never expected that it would be almost Christmas before I got an appointment!

The first 2 weeks in December – spend a lot of time organising things for Christmas and for other people to take on my voluntary work.

Sunday 15th December – Packed bag for hospital and tried to have normal day. Have not slept properly the last two nights – woke up worrying about operation and perhaps more whether there will be a bed available.

No phone call on Sunday evening to cancel op.

Monday 16th December – up at 6am; drink of water. Ring Ward to check if bed available as instructed – they cannot tell me as there are patients awaiting discharge.

Can go in for 7. 30 as per instructions or ring again at 8. 30. Decide to go as it seems one step nearer. Put in waiting room along with two other prospective patients. After the best part of an hour someone comes to take our names. Anaesthetist interviews each of us in turn – I find him very reassuring about the actual op but he says it is unlikely we will know if there is a bed before 10am. My husband decides he can't wait any longer and will come back for me if necessary.

At around 11am one lady is taken in to prepare for surgery. At 11.30 the other lady and myself are told by a very apologetic nurse that we can not be admitted as there are still no free beds as patients are still waiting for discharge. Although there may be beds in the afternoon by then there will be no theatre time as the start of operations was so delayed.

I feel a mixture of frustration and an acceptance of this is how the NHS is nowadays. I am brought a cup of coffee and biscuits. What happens now I ask? – I go onto the 'urgent' list and will be contacted by the consultant's secretary to arrange another date. Walk out with my bag to wait for my husband to pick me up outside. The rest of the day is a blur and a write off.

Thursday am 18th December – I have heard nothing from the secretary so far – would have thought there would be some contact to reassure patients and explain where we go from here even if another date could not be offered immediately Will ring on Friday. Can't make any plans for next January or February at least.

Friday 19th December – ring secretary and leave message. She rings back and offers 17th January but still no guarantee that a bed will be available – have to go through whole rigmarole again.

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Responses

Response from Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust

Thank you for your feedback and we are really sorry for the difficulties you have experienced last week whilst waiting for a bed for your surgery. We have been experiencing extreme pressure on our beds in the last couple of weeks due to the number of emergency admissions and we are very sorry that you had such a difficult experience.

We do try to work hard to ensure that if a patient has had to have their operation cancelled that all efforts will be made to ensure that this doesn’t happen again. However, emergencies and unforeseen circumstances can occur which means that this is not always possible, as was the case on your visit on the 16th December.

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