Interesting to hear the difficulties faced by hospitals at this time of year.
I have personal family experienced of operations being cancelled, in December and January. The first operation was cancelled on the day of the operation and the second the night before.
Both cancellations caused a lot of upset and stress to say nothing of the huge impact on the logistics of rescheduling work commitments.
Reflecting on the hospital experience was interesting. The care was great but the systems are inefficient.
Two obvious changes could improve things. Firstly, elected surgery beds are often taken for emergencies, which prevents the consultants carrying out planned operations. This means that it is in the interest of elected surgery consultants not to discharge patients at night to protect that bed from being taken for an emergency. If the patient, who might not have needed to be in hospital overnight, is discharged in the morning the bed is free for that days elected surgery.
People staying in hospital unnecessarily can’t help. I don’t know how prevalent this practice is but it was raised with me by one of the consultants.
The second point is much simpler to solve. Before attending for elected surgery you attend a clinic appointment a few days earlier to sort out all the admin and have a quick check over to make sure you are fit enough.
One thing missing, at this stage, is an assessment of what time off work might be required post operation. It is obvious after certain invasive surgery, for people of working age and in employment, that some time off is inevitable. My experience shows that this admin process is carried out at the point of discharge, on the ward, in a clinical environment.
This is wasteful as it results in a nurse, having to try and find an on call doctor to sign the form which is not good use of either persons time on such an admin matter. Worse, the process took a couple of hours. Time when the bed was technically still being occupied that could be used by someone else.