SOME patients report having their operations cancelled three or four times a health watchdog says.

Aneurin Bevan Community Health Council (CHC) is calling for assurance from the area’s health bosses that standards on cancelled operations are being monitored, and that patients who have been affected are subsequently given priority when rescheduling is being considered.

Late last year the CHC, Gwent’s independent health watchdog, invited patients and relatives with experience of cancelled operations to share their experiences, to try to gauge the extent of the problem and its impact.

A full report on the feedback and the issues raised will be submitted to the health board shortly, but in a short report to the latest board meeting CHC chief officer Cathy O’Sullivan highlighted some of the findings.

“Some reported operations cancelled three or more times and the majority of respondents had no indication of a future date,” she said.

“Some were seeking surgery for serious conditions, including cancer, and expressed worries delays were compromising a successful outcome.

“A number of cancellations took place on the day when patients were ‘gowned up’ for surgery.

“As well as the personal trauma, there are a number of practical accounts of arrangements being made at home and at work which then have to be rearranged at a later date.”

Operations can be cancelled for a variety of reasons, including unforeseen emergencies, a lack of beds, staff or patient illness.

Health board chief operating officer Judith Paget said: “Multiple postponed operations is a theme that has come forward.

“We are trying to minimise cancellations and focusing on those who have been cancelled at least once.”

Welsh guidelines say patients who have an operation cancelled more than once for non-clinical reasons, with less than eight days’ notice, should have it within 14 days.