University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) has postponed 175 planned Day Surgery operations at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary (RLI) after environmental tests showed the air quality in one of its operating theatres was not of a high-enough standard to carry out certain procedures in a safe environment.
The air quality problem in the operating theatre at the RLI arose after a crack in the ceiling was repaired. After the repair work, despite thorough and repeated cleaning, the air quality in the theatre did not improve sufficiently to allow operations to restart.
This has mostly had an impact on operations, for Ophthalmology and Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) conditions. These are being planned where possible at other locations, with the majority, which are cataract operations, being planned for theatres within the Westmorland General Hospital at Kendal.
Any patients who have had their operations postponed have been contacted by UHMBT to apologise and explain the situation. The Trust aims to have offered all affected patients a new date for their surgery by early April.
‘Foluke Ajayi, Chief Operating Officer, UHBMT said: “We cannot risk the safety of our patients. The theatre is not safe to use as a conventional theatre because its physical condition has deteriorated.
“We do understand how distressing and worrying it is for patients where we have to cancel operations, and we do not make these decisions lightly. We are however working very hard to resolve the problem, and will ensure that we offer our patients an alternative operation date as soon as possible. I offer my sincere apologies to anyone who has been affected.
“Before this problem occurred, the Trust recognised that the quality of some of the operating theatres required addressing and therefore added this to the Trust’s risk register and applied for NHS Capital Funding to finance an update for our operating theatres at the RLI – however our funding application was not successful.”