A SUDDEN upsurge in seriously ill patients has put the pressure back on at Hereford County Hospital.

Wye Valley NHS Trust (WVT) has today (Friday) confirmed that 80 operations have been cancelled over the past week alone as extra beds are opened up to cope with patient numbers.

The Trust’s assessors are currently analysing patient statistics from the start of April to determine a cause – or causes – for the rise.

Other healthcare providers, including the out of hours Primecare service, also report surges in the number of seriously ill patients they are dealing with.

“The upshot is that to ensure those people who are seriously ill and need urgent treatment are given the care they require, we’ve had to cancel a number of operations,” said WVT chief operating officer Neil Doverty.

Of the 80 operations cancelled, most were in general surgery, orthopaedics and urology.

“Cancelled operations are always a last resort and we try to give as much notice as we can, although it has been unavoidable and we’ve had to make this decision on the same day as planned operations in some cases," said Mr Doverty.

"We realise that families have to make arrangements when a relative goes into hospital for an operation, and that a cancellation can be a great disappointment and inconvenience. We are sincerely sorry for these cancellations, but hope people will understand the reason why,” he said.

Normally Hereford County Hospital can expect to discharge in the region of 40-50 patients a day.

Due to the number and severity of illnesses many of its patients currently have, it is only managing to send around 15-25 home with a major impact on available beds.

Already, extra capacity areas are being considered so operations can be re-booked as soon as possible.

April has also seen a significant increase in emergency admissions against already high established attendance averages in A&E.

WVT is in a continual struggle to balance elective activity with emergency flows and pressures for acute beds.

Although WVT over-performs on day case activity, planned surgery across a number of specialities has been disrupted significantly due to a lack of beds associated with higher demand from non-elective patients.

As a result, Trust performance on the national cancelled operations target has repeatedly failed to meet the national threshold.

Where possible, the Trust tries to re-organise theatre lists at short notice to accommodate elective patients able to respond to late schedule changes.