AIREDALE NHS Trust has been cancelling pre-planned operations since December 19 to make sure it can cope with increased numbers of patients needing more urgent care.

The Trust's chief operating officer Stacey Hunt has apologised for any inconvenience but hoped people would understand.

Despite being asked for the number of cancelled operations, the Trust said the figures and also details of what kind of operations had been affected were not available to give to the Telegraph & Argus.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has also apologised to patients who have had operations delayed as a result of winter pressures in the NHS in England.

Mr Hunt told Sky News: "It is absolutely not what I want." Meanwhile Prime Minister Theresa May has rejected claims that the NHS is in "crisis" saying the health service is better prepared ''than ever before''.

The comments come after NHS England urged hospitals to defer pre-planned operations and routine outpatient appointments until the end of the month due to severe winter pressures.

In a drastic step to try to free up hospital staff and beds, NHS England also said the deferral of non-urgent inpatient elective care should be extended until January 31.

Mr Hunt said: "There are real pressures, no question about it."

Stacey Hunter from the Airedale NHS Trust said the situation was being reviewed "on an ongoing basis."

She said: "At the current time we have cancelled non-urgent operations and procedures in order to ensure we have sufficient capacity to respond to the increase in the number of people needing more urgent care.

"Anyone who has an urgent operation planned will still be accommodated and the majority of our outpatient and ambulatory care appointments are still operating."

Ms Hunter said the Trust appreciated it may cause some frustration and inconvenience for people for which it would apologise, but hoped they were able to understand the circumstances that led to it.

Anyone unclear whether they should still attend appointments or not should call the telephone number on their letter.

"We have been operating with some cancellations in place from December 19, 2017 and expect it to continue during January. This is normal practice for the two week Christmas and New Year holiday period consistent with our usual plans for this period, but it has been extended to recognise the additional pressures on urgent care,” added Ms Hunter.

Airedale Hospital currently has one confirmed case of so-called Australian influenza as well as two others being swabbed to check for the virus.
Director of nursing Jill Asbury: “We manage flu cases year on year, and have escalation and continuity plans in place for if there’s ever a threat of an outbreak.”