3:55pm Monday 21st October 2013
ELECTIVE orthopaedic surgery will be cancelled across Hywel Dda Health Board say union members, who have reacted angrily to the news.
Hywel Dda said it was proposing to put plans in place to deal with the ‘significant challenge presented each year by increasing winter healthcare demands across Wales’.
The changes affect all four hospitals in the health board area including Withybush Hospital.
Healthcare union Unison has said the move is a cost cutting exercise stating members were informed at a meeting that ‘in order to make financial savings, all orthopaedic elective surgery such as hip and knee replacements will be cancelled and not resume until April 2014’.
In criticising the plans, Unison branch chairman, Wendy Evans, said: “The Health Board already has a waiting time of 15 months for patients awaiting orthopaedic surgery. This will clearly add at least another five to six months to their waiting time, causing further distress and possibly further complications to their condition.”
A health board spokesman said: “The health board has a responsibility to ensure continued safe care at this time of increased pressure and is putting plans in place now to respond to the anticipated increase in activity over the winter season.”
Dr Phil Kloer, director of clinical services, added: “In past years, there have been too many operations cancelled at the last minute due to emergency admissions. In previous winters, we had up to 160 additional beds in place often being managed by temporary staff. This is not a position we can sustain this year.
“To address this, we propose to manage our bed stock and elective surgical lists in a better way during the busiest months this winter to ensure we have the staff capacity to manage emergencies and the most urgent patients.
”We would like to reassure patients that if they have an urgent clinical need they will be seen. Emergency and cancer procedures, the vast majority of orthopaedic day surgery and other elective procedures will also continue.”
The proposals proposed by the Health Board include using theatres for those with the highest clinical need, reviewing and re-profiling patients on the orthopaedic waiting lists increasing day surgery cases and maximising alternative methods of treatment through non-surgical pathways, undertaking work in outpatients to monitor patients on surgical lists, monitoring the position on a weekly basis and reviewing its position towards the end of the winter surge and a non-emergency surgical shutdown for two weeks over Christmas.
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