Hospital surgery postponement extended until ‘necessary assurance’ over safety

Several surgeries at an Edinburgh hospital will continue to be postponed as the health board does not have “necessary assurance” for the safety of patients.

It was announced last week that 30 elective procedures – scheduled in advance and not related to medical emergencies – would be held off until Friday at the Western General Hospital’s department of clinical neurosciences.

The move, described as a precautionary measure in a statement from NHS Lothian, comes after patients were identified to have an infection caused by the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

An incident management team was set up and the cases are being monitored closely, with the health board saying they are not linked.

NHS Lothian has now extended the “precautionary” action until Thursday, for the safety of patients while testing is carried out.

Professor Alex McMahon, nurse director, NHS Lothian, said: “The incident management team has decided to continue the suspension of elective procedures within the speciality, until Thursday, until test results are confirmed.

“We do not have the necessary assurance that we require to resume normal services.

“I know this will be disappointing and frustrating for patients, who are scheduled in for a procedure in the early part of this week, and I apologise to them for the inconvenience and disruption this will cause.

“I would reassure them, however, that patient safety is the priority in any decision we make and we are doing everything we can to return to normal as quickly as possible.

“We have contacted all of the affected patients directly and will provide a new appointment for each of them as quickly as possible.

“In the meantime, all necessary infection control measures are in place and the situation will continue to be reviewed and monitored very closely.”

P. aeruginosa was found in a shower and some taps in one area of a ward, and is common in soil and ground water.

Despite this and the fact it rarely affects those who are healthy, the bacteria can be harmful to a small number of patients who are vulnerable to infection.