ALMOST 1,200 operations a month were postponed in Gwent hospitals during 2013/14, with 58 per cent due to reasons involving patients.

During the 12 months to March 31 this year, there were 14,257 of what the NHS Wales calls postponed admitted procedures (PAPs), according to figures in an Aneurin Bevan University Health Board report.

Almost 8,200 were classified as patient reasons, which include a patient being too unwell for surgery, or a patient opting out of treatment.

The remainder are divided into clinical and non-clinical reasons, with the latter involving more than 5,300 postponements. 1,010 were put down to no beds being available and 1,203 were due to a lack of clinical staff, with the remaining 2,332 attributed to other non-clinical reasons.

Clinical reasons – not specified, though they can include other operations taking longer than expected, or emergencies coming in – were behind 741 postponements.

The PAPs system replaces the traditional ‘cancelled operations’ figure, which counted procedures taking place in an operating theatre, using a sterile approach and involving anaesthetic.

PAPs counts all elective inpatient and daycase procedures, with the exception of maternity cases, and can include activity which did not fit the previous system definition of an operation.

Under the new system the PAPs figure for Gwent hospitals is 349 cases higher than the ‘cancelled operations’ figure would have been for 2013/14, with the inclusion of endoscopies an example of a reason for that increase.

The PAPs figures are also divided into quarterly performance, and show that more procedures were postponed during April, May and June last year because of a lack of beds, than were postponed during January, February and March of this year for the same reason.

This is an indication that pre-planning for winter pressures, which included temporarily opening up to 125 more hospital beds from December, helped soften the impact demand at the hospital ‘front door’ can have in forcing cancellations.