HUNDREDS of patients are failing to turn up for planned hospital operations each year – putting extra strain on NHS staff and causing delays.

East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust (ELHT) said 1,268 elective patients did not attend on the day of their procedure – nearly three per cent of the total.

This was up on the 1,159 ‘did not attends’ in 2011/12 and 1,161 in 2010/11. Most of the trust’s elective, or non-emergency, operations are carried out at Burnley General Hospital.

A huge amount of preparation work goes into every clinical procedure, so cancellations create a huge amount of waste in a system already under pressure.

Val Bertenshaw, director of operations, said: “Patients who do not attend elective operations or appoint- ments have an enormous impact on the healthcare system in terms of cost and waiting time, significantly adding to delays along the patient pathway.

“Our main priority is to provide safe, personal and effective care for every patient in a timely manner.

“We understand patients can be nervous and anxious in the lead up to a planned operation or appointment, but if circumstances or decisions change and they cannot keep their appointment we encourage them to let us know immediately, so we can offer the theatre slot to another patient.”

New figures show more cancellations attributed to patients than to the trust.

Last year the Lancashire Telegraph revealed 786 elective operations were cancelled by hospital staff in 2012/13.