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Chat calls for reduction in cancelled ops

By Gordon Calder

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Ron Gunn wants reduction in cancelled ops in the Highlands
Ron Gunn wants reduction in cancelled ops in the Highlands

A CAITHNESS health campaigner yesterday called for a reduction in the number of operations that are cancelled in the Highlands.

Ron Gunn, a vice-chairman of the Caithness Health Action Team (Chat), made the plea after it emerged that 180 operations had been cancelled by NHS Highland in May. Forty-five did not proceed for non-clinical reasons.

He said: "The figure seems very high for the Highlands. We would like to see that reduced and get it as low as possible. We would like to think that people would be informed beforehand if their op has to be cancelled rather than go to Inverness to be told it is not going ahead.

"A cancellation, which could be caused due to a shortage of staff, might have a major impact on somebody – especially if they are waiting for life-changing surgery and you don't know how long you will have to wait to get back on the list."

Mr Gunn also expressed concern about patients going to Inverness for an appointment to be told the consultant could have seen them in Wick.

"Someone need to look at the overall picture here," he said.

The issue was raised by Highlands and Islands Labour MSP David Stewart, who said the data published by the Information Services Division showed that operations were being cancelled because hospitals could not cope.

He said 45 of the 180 operations were cancelled as the hospital did not have enough staff or equipment was unclean.

Across Scotland, 2466 operations were cancelled with 500 not going ahead due to non-clinical purposes.

Mr Stewart claims the figures show the NHS is not getting enough resources from the SNP government.

He said: "Behind each of these figures is a patient waiting in pain for treatment that hospitals have not been able to give.

"We have seen a staffing crisis develop in our health service, with huge unfilled gaps for consultants, nurses and midwives.

"Patients across NHS Highland are being let down by the SNP government and are not getting the care they deserve.

"It is time to use the powers of the Scottish Parliament to properly fund our NHS."

Linda Bremner, a local campaigner and secretary of Tannach and District Community Council, commented: "It is unfortunate when operations are cancelled but many factors may be involved. It could be staff shortage, sickness or holidays.

"It is an issue but I think it is being looked at. I would like to see all political parties working together to try and resolve the problem rather than engage in political point-scoring."

An NHS Highland spokesman said: "The decision to cancel any operation is not one that we take lightly and all efforts are made to ensure that any cancellations are kept to a minimum.

"Any patients that have been cancelled are prioritised and rebooked as quickly as possible. The level of demand on beds in our Intensive Treatment Unit and Surgical High Dependency Unit can cause operations to be cancelled, alongside other factors such as the unpredictable nature of emergency situations and staff sickness."

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