'TREMENDOUS pressure' on the Island's health service has been blamed for a surge in the number of operations cancelled at the last minute.

The Isle of Wight NHS Trust cancelled 87 non-urgent operations, such as hip or knee surgeries, in the three months to June — the latest period covered by NHS England data.

The number leapt by 85 per cent, compared with the same period last year, when there were 47 last minute cancellations.

The data covers cancellations due to non-clinical reasons, such as bed or staff shortages.

Trust director of acute services, Nikki Turner, said: "I’d like to apologise to anyone who has had their surgery cancelled. It is frustrating for our patients and for our staff.

"The NHS across the country, including the Isle of Wight, has been under tremendous pressure since the turn of the year.

"We do everything we can to avoid cancelling surgery, and give patients as much warning as possible, but there are a variety of reasons why that is sometimes necessary — such as urgent, emergency and cancer patients taking priority and the need to comply with rules on single sex accommodation.

"Where we have to cancel this is an action of last resort and we try to rebook patients we have had to cancel as quickly as possible."

The Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) warned the figures could be masking the true scale of the problem — as they do not include operations cancelled with more than 24 hours notice.

RCS vice president Prof Cliff Shearman said: “Having an operation that has been planned for months cancelled at short notice can be very stressful for patients and their families.

"Alongside practical considerations such as wasted time off work and rescheduling the surgery, patients will have to deal with the mental anguish of preparing for surgery all over again.

"They will also have to endure waiting longer in pain and discomfort, possibly unable to work or complete day-to-day tasks for themselves. In some cases, their condition may worsen."