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  1. ITV Report

Urgent operation cancellations hit record-high

  • Video report by ITV News North of England Correspondent Damon Green

The number of urgent operations cancelled across the NHS is now the highest on record.

Just over 4,000 urgent operations were cancelled in 2016 as the health service came under intense pressure - a 27% rise on the 3,216 in 2014, according to NHS England.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: "Theresa May's NHS crisis continues, and the problems are worse and more widespread than in previous years. By under-funding and overstretching the NHS, the Tories have pushed health services to the brink.”

"The Prime Minister needs to explain what she's going to do to fix this mess - not just pass the buck to local health providers. Cuts to social care have left patients stuck in hospitals across the country even when they are ready to leave, with knock-on effects for those waiting for treatment.

"Urgent action is required and Labour are calling for a sustainable health and social care package to be brought forward in the March Budget, so that the NHS and its patients never have to go through a winter like this again."

The NHS is 'under-funded and overstretched' Credit: PA

It comes as surgeons this morning hit out at the NHS over cost-cutting plans to ration hip and knee replacements to only those with "severe pain".

Proposals include slashing the number of people who qualify for hip replacements by 12% and knee replacements by 19%.

This could save around £2m a year, three Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in the West Midlands claim.

It would mean only treating "severe to the upper end of moderate" cases.

Obese people with a body mass index over 34 would also be forced to wait until they had lost 10% of their weight unless their problems were very severe.

Patients in pain would need to have such severe levels of pain that they cannot sleep or carry out daily tasks.

Redditch and Bromsgrove, South Worcestershire, and Wyre Forest are the CCGs that intend to change their scoring system for eligibility, hoping to prevent about 350 operations needing to be carried out each year.

But the Royal College of Surgeons has said there is "no clinical justification" for their plans.

NHS trusts have been raising the alarm over problems in the NHS throughout this winter, issuing more than 200 crisis alerts a week and having to divert patients from too-full A&E departments.

Figures for the week ending January 22 show 43 NHS trusts put A&E diverts in place, down from 52 the previous week but more than double the same period last year.

Some 51 trusts had at least one day during the week when they had to raise the alarm -called an operational alert - with some saying patient care may be compromised.

This is down from 68 the previous week.