HC Deb 21 January 2004 vol 416 cc1353-4W
Mr. Burstow

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if he will publish the guidelines given to NHS trusts in reporting cancelled operations, with particular reference to guidelines on the use of stand-by lists of patients who may be operated on that day if capacity allows; [146338]

(2) what proportion of hours per week operating theatres were used on average in (a) England, (b) each strategic health authority and (c) each NHS trust, in the latest week for which figures are available; [146341]

(3) what research his Department has commissioned on links between ward bed availability and cancellation of scheduled operation lists. [146342]

Mr. Hutton

Guidance on reporting last minute cancelled operations is made available to the national health service through the Department of Health NHS web. A copy has been placed in the Library. No national guidance exists on the use of stand-by lists. The operation of stand-by lists is a matter for individual NHS trusts in consultation with their commissioners.

In addition, the Modernisation Agency's operating theatre and pre-operative assessment programme is supporting NHS trusts to implement good practice guidance on tackling cancelled operations and effective utilisation of operating theatres.

The programme has published good practice such as the "Step Guide to Improving Operating Theatre Performance" published in June 2002 which sets out four key steps, or stages, to improving operating theatre performance and reducing cancelled operations. It contains diagnostic tools and common sense, practical solutions for trusts to increase theatre utilisation and improve patient care.

Information on the usage of operating theatres is not collected centrally by the Department.

As part of a larger project, the Department of Health commissioned York University to carry out some modelling of bed occupancy. Findings from the study were published in the BMJ: "Dynamics of bed use in accommodating emergency admissions: stochastic simulation model"—Adrian Bagust et at BMJ vol. 319, 17 July 1999, pages 155–158, a copy of which has also been placed in the Library.

Dr. Richard Taylor

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the rules relating to the time of cancellation for acute hospital trusts to record operations as cancelled for non-clinical reasons. [147189]

Mr. Hutton

The Department of Health collects data on the number of operations cancelled by the hospital for non-clinical reasons (i) at the last minute (that is, on the day patients are due to arrive, or after arrival in hospital, or on the day of their operation), and (ii) the number of patients not admitted within 28 days of a 'last minute' cancellation as part of the NHS Plan cancelled operations guarantee.

The NHS Plan cancelled operations guarantee introduced in April 2002, states if a patient's operation is cancelled by the hospital on the day of surgery for non-clinical reasons, the hospital will have to offer another binding date within a maximum of the next 28 days, or fund the patient's treatment at the time and hospital of the patient's choice.

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