PATIENTS affected by the cancellation of at least 100 operations at Walsall Manor Hospital are being urged to share their experiences.
The majority of non-urgent surgery at the Pleck Road site was postponed during a period of more than two weeks last month.
Bosses at Walsall Healthcare Trust said the move was down to a shortage of funding, a lack of nurses and in preparation for a new intensive treatment unit at the site.
Now, a health watchdog is investigating the impact of the cancellations – many of which were made at short notice.
Simon Fogell, chief officer for Healthwatch Walsall, said: “Most pre-planned elective surgery at the hospital was cancelled for just over a fortnight at the end of March and yet many of those affected were told only one or two weeks before.
“We have now received assurances from the Trust that no one’s health was made worse by the delays, but we’re very keen to monitor this on behalf of the public.
“People who had operations booked for many weeks now face further delay and may suffer additional anxiety and pain as well as huge inconvenience.
“So we want to find out how people were affected by this, what impact it has had on their health or care arrangements and if it has caused any inconvenience.”
Healthwatch Walsall has referred the matter to the Walsall Health Scrutiny Panel for further investigation. But clinically urgent cases, together with those for cancer patients, were unaffected by the cancellations and elective surgery re-started on Monday.
Mr Fogell added: “Most of the operations have now been re-booked and will take place before the end of April.
“But we’ll have further discussions with the Trust to seek assurances that any decision to cancel operations in future is better planned to ensure patients are not subject to such inconvenience.
“We’ll also seek talks about the impact of having less beds available for surgical assessment and about any actions that will be taken as a result.”
John Taylor, Healthwatch Walsall chair, said: “We recognise the financial and operational challenges facing the NHS.
“That was highlighted by the recent announcement that the NHS’s 18-week target for referral to treatment for non-urgent operations is to be relaxed.
“But we’re concerned that money is being put before care and that lack of planning and consultation is damaging patient confidence.
“It’s important that our health bosses are held to account and that report findings are made public. Healthwatch will ensure this takes place.”
Anyone affected by the cancellation of operations is urged to call Healthwatch Walsall on 0800 470 1660 or email email@example.com