WORCESTERSHIRE Acute Hospitals NHS Trust has apologised to patients after figures showed it had the worst waiting time for rescheduling cancelled operations.

One in 13 (eight per cent) operations that were cancelled at the last minute in the three months to December across the country were not rescheduled within the mandatory 28-day period set down by the NHS.

And the Worcestershire trust came out worst with 160 cancellations while 52 were not rescheduled, giving a breach rate of 32.5 per cent at the trust.

A trust spokesman said: “We would like to apologise to any patient whose surgery has been cancelled and we understand the distress and inconvenience this can cause.

“Decisions to cancel any operations are not taken lightly and we make every effort to avoid them wherever possible.

“When a decision to cancel does have to be made, we make it a priority to reschedule.

“Cancellations can happen for a variety of reasons, and a number of measures are in place to improve patient flow and theatre efficiency in our hospitals,” he added.

Nationally, this is the worst proportion on record for 14 years and has been getting worse year on year.

In the previous two years, 7.3 per cent of operations were not rescheduled within the timeframe, while the figure was just 3.8 per cent in 2011/12.

The data covers cancellations for non-clinical reasons, such as bed or staff shortages, and does not include patients cancelling the operations themselves.

Last minute means on the day the patient was due to arrive, after the patient has arrived in hospital or on the day of the operation or surgery.

In total, 73 trusts performed worse than during the previous year.

The highest number of cancellations overall was University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, with 667 cancellations.

The NHS England data did show, however, that the overall number of cancelled operations has slightly fallen.

There were 20,145 last-minute cancellations of non-urgent operations, such as hip or knee surgeries, during the three-month period, down on the same three months in the previous year, when there were 21,984 cancellations.