FURTHER evidence of a mid-year cash crisis in the health service emerged yesterday, when the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford said it was delaying or postponing non-urgent surgery.
The hospital is treating only emergency cases. Hundreds of patients who need non-urgent surgery such as hip replacements, hysterectomies and hernias, must wait until the next financial year starts on 1 April 1993.
The hospital has 'over-performed' in the first six months of this financial year. It has completed all the operations that Oxfordshire Health Authority had agreed to pay for. Tony Stapleton, general manager at the John Radcliffe, said: 'Since 1 April we have treated 23,000 in-patients. If we continue to treat at this rate we would treat 1,500 patients more than we have been contracted for. We have got to slow down.'
The British Medical Association warned last week that many hospitals around the country were in a similar position. There had been widespread cancellation of operations, and bed closures, with some patients being denied treatment unless they were registered with a budget-holding practice.