HUNDREDS of operations have been cancelled over the past 12 months at Whiston and St Helens hospitals.
Medics called off 75 planned procedures in the three months of the current financial year and cancelled close to 500 in the past 12 months.
The number of people visiting Whiston Hospital’s accident and emergency department over that period is partly to blame as patients needing emergency care take priority over those needing an “elective” procedure, such as a hip replacements.
Hospital bosses say there are a number of reasons why operations are cancelled, including demands on services during the winter months.
A spokeswoman for Whiston Hospital said: “Operations can be unfortunately cancelled due to a wide variety of reasons including the medical condition of a patient and demands on services especially during winter months.”
Earlier this month the hospital defended their recruitment policy after it was revealed the hospital’s A&E was understaffed by around eight per cent.
An investigation by the BBC found that 11 of the 131 positions at the hospital’s casualty department remained unfilled.
It is believed the shortfall is regularly made up by employing bank and agency staff.
A spokeswoman for St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Whiston Hospital, said: “Since opening the new Whiston Hospital, the trust has experienced a significant increase in demand for A&E services.
“The trust has responded by increasing staffing levels and is currently recruiting to new positions in the A&E department.
“The trust has a register of qualified bank staff to fill vacant positions until permanent staff members are recruited.”
The revelations about staffing levels, made following a Freedom of Information Act request, prompted nursing leaders to criticise current staffing levels.
However, trust bosses were buoyed this week by news Whiston Hospital come top of a patient survey into standards. The hospital was ranked as the best acute hospital in England in the Patient-Led Assessments of the Care Environment (PLACE) programme.
St Helens Hospital was ranked third in the survey, which took into account patients’ views on the hospital’s approach to cleanliness, privacy, dignity and wellbeing of patients, as well as food a hydration standards.