Surgeons ‘kicking their heels’ as bed shortage delays operations

Surgeons at hospitals in England are being left “kicking their heels” because operations are being cancelled due to bed shortages, NHS leaders say.

Royal College of Surgeons president Clare Marx said the “shocking waste” was a symptom of NHS underfunding.

In a joint letter to the Sunday Times with NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson, she said patients and staff deserved better.

NHS England said only 1% of operations were cancelled at the last minute.

The letter said: “Because of bed shortages, staff including surgeons are now sometimes left kicking their heels, waiting for beds to become available so they can operate.

“Too often managers, nurses and doctors waste time trying to find somewhere to look after patients [after surgery].

“At a time when the NHS is being told to make the most of its resources, this is a shocking waste.”

To minimise the risk of infections and delays in getting treatment, hospitals are meant to have no more than 85% of beds occupied.  But Ms Marx and Mr Hopson, whose organisation represents NHS Trusts, said that overnight inpatient beds were “routinely” 89% occupied.

Full story in BBC News 12 February 2017