FEWER operations are being cancelled at the Royal Bolton Hospital after bosses replaced faulty equipment, new figures have revealed.

In August, The Bolton News reported that 80 operations were cancelled there at the last minute between April and June last year.

And 40 of those cancelled between April and August, 2012, were because of faulty machinery.

The latest figures show there were no cancellations due to equipment failure in the last three months of 2012 as health chiefs replaced equipment such as endoscopy apparatus.

Bolton Council’s health representative, Cllr Linda Thomas, said: “Let's hope this trend continues as cancelled operations, even when there is a legitimate reason, must be traumatic and upsetting for patients.”

Cllr Andy Morgan, who sits on Bolton Council’s health, overview and scrutiny committee, added: “Any unplanned cancellation at such late notice is one too many and obviously causes anxiety, inconvenience and disruption to the patient so this improvement in performance is very welcome.”

The Bolton News obtained the figures from Bolton NHS Foundation Trust using The Freedom of Information Act.

In the 12 months up to March, 2010, there were 352 cancelled operations at the hospital compared with 226 the following year and 349 in the 12 months up to March, 2012.

In the last eight months of 2012, there were 241 cancellations.

Of the 241, 32 were due to staff sickness or unavailability, 30 were due to bed unavailability, 35 were due to emergency surgery taking priority and 23 were due to administrative errors such as staff not reminding patients not to eat before surgery.

Fifty-eight were cancelled as prior operations overran so there was no theatre time, 22 because the patient was not suitable for day surgery and for reasons classified as ‘other’, such as patients not following preoperation advice.

The Trust’s interim chief operating officer, Jon Scott, said the hospital was treating 11.5 per cent more patients than last year. He added: “We fully understand the distress caused to patients and their families if a planned operation is postponed and we do what we can to avoid this happening.

“We do our best to get patients back in for their surgery within 28 days, frequently sooner.

“We have reduced the number of people not treated within 28 days of the cancellation from nine in 2009/10 to three in 2012/13.

“Many postponements have been due to theatres being needed unexpectedly for complex or emergency cases and also when the hospital’s capacity is under pressure from a high number of emergency admissions.

“Our recently introduced clinical decisions unit is helping us to care for some emergency patients without admitting them and we are also increasing theatre capacity.”