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Danish hospital made 293 cancer patients wait too long for surgery

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Ritzau/The Local - [email protected]
Danish hospital made 293 cancer patients wait too long for surgery
Almost 300 bowel cancer patients at Aarhus University Hospital were not operated on within a set treatment deadline, the regional health authority has stated. File photo: Bo Amstrup/Ritzau Scanpix

Some 293 bowel cancer patients at Aarhus University Hospital waited longer than they should have to undergo surgery.

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The Central Jutland health authority, which administrates the hospital in Aarhus, gave the figure in a review it released on Thursday.

The admission from the regional health board comes after broadcaster DR had reported that 182 patients with serious bowel cancer had waited too long for an operation at Aarhus University Hospital (AUH).

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The period covered by DR’s reporting is May to December 2022, while the figure from Region Central Jutland is for January 2022 until February 2023.

Danish law requires cancer patients to be operated on within two weeks of the decision to operate being made.

But the Region Central Jutland review shows that the surgery deadline for patients at the department for stomach and bowel surgery at AUH was exceeded by up to 56 days.

On average, the two-week waiting time was exceeded by an average of 12.7 days for the 293 patients, according to the review.

“AUH cannot rule out that the extra waiting time for operations has caused a deterioration of disease in some of the patients who waited longer than the maximum waiting times,” the review states.

The review was ordered by the Danish Health Authority after the waiting time issue was reported by DR last weekend.

AUH’s stomach and bowel surgery is highly specialised to a degree that some patients with advanced bowel cancer cannot be treated anywhere else in Denmark, according to news wire Ritzau.

Failure to operate within deadlines is primarily a result of a shortage of nurses at the department, according to the review.

“The shortage of nurses has meant that it was necessary to remove beds for the entirety of 2022 at Stomach and Bowel Surgery, AUH,” it states.

The executive director of Region Central Jutland, Helene Bilsted Probst, writes in the review that the authority “looks on this matter very seriously”.

A number of measures have been initiated to ensure the department complies with waiting times, the review also says.

Region Central Jutland is set to meet with Danish Health Authority officials over the matter on Friday. Possible national measures will reportedly be discussed at the meeting, including a potential plan to ensure highly specialised surgical procedures can be conducted at more than one hospital in Denmark.

READ ALSO: What exactly is wrong with the Danish health system?

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