APPROXIMATELY eight operations a day were cancelled in the Western Trust between January and March this year.
Outside of Belfast, the Western Trust axed the most non-elective procedures out of the remaining three health trusts.
In total between January 1, 2015 and March 31, 2015, 234 non-urgent elective operations were cancelled, while the Belfast Trust, which had the highest amount of operations, cancelled 271 operations.
In January alone the Western Trust had the highest amount of operations pulled as 162 patients were told their planned procedures would be rescheduled, which is in stark contrast to the one non-elective operation which was cancelled by the Southern Trust during the same month.
The figures were revealed this week as a result of a question by the UUP MLA Roy Beggs. He had asked the Health Minister to detail the period which elective surgery was cancelled and how many operations were cancelled.
It is understood the cancellations were caused by a “chaotic” and “pressurised” winter period, when hospitals were forced to postpone operations as A&Es were swamped with patients.
New Health Minister Simon Hamilton said, “Such cancellations may be considered by HSC Trusts at times of increased unscheduled care pressures, as part of their escalation plans to improve patient flow and ensure sufficient bed capacity to accommodate unscheduled admissions.”
A Western Trust spokesperson admitted, “As with all trusts across Northern Ireland the Western Trust experienced an extremely busy time for its Emergency Departments at the start of 2015.
“At times of increased unscheduled care pressures and as part of its escalation plan to ensure sufficient bed capacity for unscheduled admissions, the Trust regrettably had to cancel some planned non-urgent surgeries.
“All urgent surgeries proceeded as planned during this period and the Trust has worked to ensure all patients who had their operation cancelled were rescheduled at the earliest opportunity.”