Controversial plans for some operations to be transferred from King’s Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital to Norwich continue to be discussed.
The proposals, which would see cancer patients and staff travel more than 40 miles for treatment at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, were due to be heard at a hospital board meeting on Tuesday.
However, the proposal was not ready for discussion and medical director Dr Nick Lyons confirmed the option of moving some planned surgery over the winter period was still being assessed.
He said there were concerns the QEH, placed in special measures by the Care Quality Commission in September, did not have enough nurses to staff the surgical programme.
He said: “We are in continuous dialogue with our staff, including our clinicians, about how we ensure the best possible, safe care for our patients over the difficult winter months.
“As we move into winter we must explore every option to run as much of our planned surgical programme as possible while at the same time ensuring the safety and care of patients needing our services in an emergency.
“All proposals are assessed for their impact on patients and we will not go ahead with any proposal which is deemed to be unsafe.
“Our nurse staffing levels, especially when it comes to registered nurses, are lower than we would have wished and we must always make sure that we have the capacity to accept patients who need our services in an emergency.”
A spokesman for the trade union Unison said members were glad the hospital trust was taking the time to explore the impact the plans would have on people who relied on the services.
“We hope that they’ll realise the obvious: forcing cancer patients to travel across the county for treatment isn’t in the best interests of the patients nervously awaiting treatment or the staff also made to travel an extra 40 miles to treat them,” said the spokesman.