Woman's op ordeal

PUBLISHED: 13:43 16 November 2006 | UPDATED: 11:14 06 May 2010

A WOMAN in need of a hip replacement had the operation cancelled once and nearly put off a second time due to supposedly sterile instruments being declared unfit for use. Sue Hogg, 66, from Wilbury Road, Letchworth GC, first went to the QEII hospital in W

A WOMAN in need of a hip replacement had the operation cancelled once and nearly put off a second time due to supposedly sterile instruments being declared unfit for use.

Sue Hogg, 66, from Wilbury Road, Letchworth GC, first went to the QEII hospital in Welwyn Garden City two weeks ago to have the surgery.

After being given an epidural, taken into the operating theatre and turned on her side ready for the procedure, she was told the operation would have to be cancelled as when the instruments were opened they were found to have dried blood on them.

Mrs Hogg was then given a new operation date of last Thursday.

On that day, theatre staff had ensured two sets of equipment were available, but both of these were found to be unusable, as was a further set sent down from the sterilisation unit at Lister Hospital.

In desperation to help Mrs Hogg have her surgery, the theatre manager and two members of staff then personally travelled to Stevenage to oversee the sterilisation of another set of equipment.

Mrs Hogg was eventually able to have her operation later that afternoon and is now making a good recovery.

Sterilisation of equipment at East and North Herts NHS Trust, which runs both Lister and QEII hospitals, has come under fire since units at both hospitals were merged to form one unit at Lister in February.

The Trust acknowledges that this change did lead to problems but maintains that things are improving.

However, Mrs Hogg's husband Mike said: "I'm horrified that this sort of thing has been going on for so long.

"Maybe it is getting a little bit better but if this is better I'd dread to think what it was like earlier in the year."

Mr Hogg said that the second trip to hospital had been "very difficult" for his wife.

After the first cancelled operation, Mrs Hogg was so incensed she contacted her MP, Oliver Heald.

He brought up the subject in the House of Commons, asking health secretary Patricia Hewitt what assessment she has made of the sterile supplies service in the Trust.

Junior health minister Andy Burnham responded, informing Mr Heald that they were currently in the early stages of tendering out the service, but avoided commenting on the current service.

Mr Heald said Mrs Hogg's experience was "appalling".

He added: "Something needs to be done now to stop this sort of ridiculous situation where pack after pack of sterile instruments are not clean.

"I feel so sorry for Mrs Hogg, what a terrible experience for her."

Nick Carver, the Trust's chief executive, said that he was "very disappointed" to learn Mrs Hogg had experienced further problems on her rescheduled date, and had "intervened personally" to make sure the surgery went ahead.

He added: "I accept that for a limited number of patients, such as Mrs Hogg, our sterile service is not working as well as it should.

"Much work has been done to put it right, but clearly - as Mrs Hogg's case illustrates - there is more that needs to be done.

"Once again I wish to extend my apologies to Mrs Hogg, but I was pleased to learn that her operation did take place on Thursday, and that she is now recovering well.

"I have also promised that she will be kept informed of the investigation that is now under way into what went wrong.

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