SIXTY patients had their surgery cancelled last week as staff at the Royal Blackburn Hospital were faced with a surge in emergency cases, bosses have revealed.

The cancelled operations were all said to be non-urgent, and the patients will be given new dates, or transferred to other services.

Valerie Bertenshaw, director of operations at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “The trust performs approximately 600 elective procedures in surgical specialities every week and, in order to ensure we continue to provide safe care for our patients, 60 cases of non-urgent surgery were cancelled and rearranged to accommodate more serious emergency patients.

“These cancellations were specific to the Royal Blackburn Hospital site only as the trust was able to maintain all surgery on the Burnley General Hospital site.”

Emergency cases always increase for periods in the winter, and health chiefs said there have been high volumes of patients for the last few weeks.

A neighbouring trust, which runs Royal Preston and Chorley and South Ribble hospitals, reported ‘unprecedented’ demand for its services last week, and cancelled 100 non-urgent operations.

Managers said about 50 patients a day more than usual were being admitted to the hospitals.

Health bosses for East Lancashire said they have put ‘robust plans’ in place to provide extra beds, doctors and nursing staff at the Royal Blackburn and Burnley General.

A joint statement from the hospitals and the area’s Clinical Comm-issioning Groups said: “We are ensuring that patients are seen regularly by senior doctors and we will work with our primary care (GPs) and social care partners to look after people in nursing homes, or their own homes, where their condition doesn’t require hospitalisation.

“In order to ensure we can continue to provide safe care for our patients, some non-urgent elective surgery has been cancelled to provide extra beds for the sustained increase in emergency work, but these cancellations will not impact on any cancer-related operations. This is standard procedure and we will make every effort to return services to normal as soon as possible.”