A PROPOSAL to cancel all elective orthopaedic surgery during the winter months has been shelved.

A statement from Hywel Dda Health Board today says operations will continue at all three of its hospitals ‘but with a reduced capacity’.

The proposals caused an outcry last month. Unions, medical staff, politicians and patients had criticised the move saying it would only add to the suffering of patients and would also just create more problems down the line.

The health board said today: “In preparation for additional pressures on emergency services this winter, the Health Board has been engaging with staff to prioritise resources over the winter months to deal with anticipated emergency pressures.

“In previous winters, significant numbers of planned operations were postponed - many at short notice; we had up to 160 additional beds in place often being managed by temporary staff; and A&E Departments struggling to find space for emergency patients in already full hospitals. This is not a position we can sustain this year and we need our hospitals to have more resilience.

“One element of our winter planning has considered elective orthopaedic surgery. We can confirm that subject to Board approval, it is intended to maintain elective orthopaedic surgery on all three sites (Bronglais, Prince Philip and Withybush Hospitals) over the winter period but with a reduced capacity.”

The board said it had reached the position ‘following widespread discussions with staff’.

“This [plan] would help us to reduce the number of postponed operations, provide additional staff support for emergency care and ensure those with the greatest clinical need are prioritised.

“Day case orthopaedic and emergency orthopaedic operations will continue as normal.

“Our intention would be to keep this position under weekly review throughout the winter period.”

The statement said the complete winter plan will be discussed at the November meeting of the board, later this month.

“Details of how patients can raise personal queries will be provided separately and we will also be responding to individual patient queries raised with us over the last few weeks in the near future,” the statement added.

  • If you are affected by the reduced service or your operation is postponed, we want to hear from you. Contact the newsroom at wtnews@westerntelegraph.co.uk or call 01437 761753.