Operations postponed due to intensive care bed shortage at JR

Surgeons Operating NNL-160829-115932001
Surgeons Operating NNL-160829-115932001

Heart and cancer patients have had their operations at the John Radcliffe Hospital postponed because there are no intensive care beds free for their recovery.

Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust apologised for any distress to patients but said they are dealing with exceptional numbers of emergencies this winter.

Oxford's John Radcliffe Hospital NNL-150710-123011001

Oxford's John Radcliffe Hospital NNL-150710-123011001

Banbury hospital campaigners are angry at the situation saying they warned that the JR hospital in Oxford would lose a vital safety net if it downgraded the Horton’s intensive care unit (ICU) and closed two of its six beds.

An OUH spokesman said ICU staff have been working at maximum capacity over the winter months with nurses and doctors often working additional shifts to open extra beds, when possible.

“We recognise cancelling operations at short notice, on the day of surgery or on the day before surgery can cause great anxiety to patients and their families.

“We would like to apologise for any distress caused to patients who have been affected,” he said.

“We will only ever cancel operations at short notice as a last resort if, in the judgement of our clinicians, proceeding with surgery is a risk to patient safety.

“For some operations, the availability of a critical care bed is essential and surgery cannot be undertaken safely if no such beds are available.”

He said operations were rescheduled as soon as possible.

Eight cancer and 16 heart operations were postponed on the day of surgery in December and January because of a lack of beds in ICU or inpatient ward beds.

Ten more cardiac operations, along with other planned surgery, were postponed in January in a move to ease pressures on emergency services.

Keith Strangwood, chairman of the Keep the Horton General Campaign said: “We and others have warned all along that it was crazy to downgrade ICU at the Horton and close two of the unit’s beds, removing a much needed intensive care facility for Banbury and overflow space for Oxford patients.”