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Non-urgent operations cancelled at Bradford Royal Infirmary
Non-urgent operations are being cancelled at Bradford Royal Infirmary because a high number of emergency and life-threatening cases are taking priority.
It comes as health chiefs in Bradford were yesterday handed £2.1m of emergency cash to prevent an A&E crisis – only weeks after ministers insisted they did not need it.
The money has been paid out to GPs to devise schemes to “minimise A&E attendance and hospital admissions” during the highly-pressure[d winter months.
They will also be expected to work with hospitals to treat more patients at weekends and tackle so-called ‘bed-blocking’ – when patients stay on wards unnecessarily.
Non-emergency operations are being postponed at BRI as staff deal with an increased number of life-threatening or urgent medical cases which required immediate care and admission such as heart problems and chest, said a spokesman for Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
But the Trust said the number of cases of norovirus, which has caused beds to be closed at its hospitals earlier this week, had now improved with no beds restricted or shut last night.
The Trust spokesman said: “Postponing operations are decisions that we never take lightly, but we are currently extremely busy dealing with emergency and life-threatening cases and we have had to prioritise patients with the highest clinical risk."
Back in September, Bradford missed out on a share of £235m handed to 53 other hospitals, to ease pressures in casualty departments.
Airedale Hospital did receive money – £1.5m – and has expressed confidence that it has measures in place to cope with higher winter numbers.
Stacey Hunter, director of operations for Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, said yesterday: “We are currently coping well but our services are under more pressure which is consistent with normal winter activity – the number of people being admitted to hospital has increased by 15 per cent."
But she said: “So far there have been no cases of norovirus on our wards and we haven’t needed to cancel any patients’ operations or other planned care. We would do everything possible to avoid doing this at very short notice.”
In September, the Department of Health described the decision to exclude Bradford as a compliment, because cash was going “to the areas that need it most”.
Now ministers have now found an extra £150m, which has been allocated to GP-led clinical commission groups (CCGs), which ‘buy’ treatments and services.
Bradford District CCG receives £2.15m as the ‘lead CCG’ in the city. The second local commissioning body is called Bradford City.
In a statement, Bradford District CCG did not comment on the timing of the funding, but said a meeting would be held today (THURS) to decide how to spend it.
A spokesman said: “The additional £2.1m from NHS England will be used to improve services for patients during winter.
“In preparation for this winter, we have been working in partnership with CCGs in West Yorkshire, to help people keep well and make the right health choices over the winter months.”
In a letter to CCGs, outgoing NHS chief executive David Nicholson wrote that he now believed they too would “benefit from additional resources”.
The funding was announced as Labour staged a Westminster ‘summit’ on the issue, warning that 2013 was “the worst year in a decade in A&E”.
Health spokesman Andy Burnham highlighted longer ambulance queues outside A&E, longer waits to be treated and longer waits on hospital trolleys.
And he said: “The pressure that we have seen all year hasn't abated. In recent weeks, it has been running at winter levels before winter has begun in earnest.
“There are genuine concerns now about the service's ability to cope over what we expect will be a very difficult winter.”
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