Patients with non-life threatening injuries, including elderly patients with hip fractures, are waiting up to three weeks for surgery, an orthopaedic surgeon at Liverpool hospital claimed today.

Dr Ian Harris, an orthopaedic surgeon at Liverpool and St George hospitals, said the delays recently led to a 28 year old woman having an operation for a complex wrist fracture cancelled five times.

In another case an elderly patient with a hip fracture had to wait a week.

“These patients are forever being bumped off the list by life threatening cases because there simply is not the theatre time available,” said Dr Harris.

“It’s a highly inefficient use of resources which means senior specialists turn up at the hospital and are forced to wait for hours on end for theatres to become available.”

“Often the only available theatre time is after midnight but this is the least safe time to be performing complex surgery.”

Dr Harris said the case of a 28 year old computer operator with a wrist fracture, who fasted for 48 hours only to have her operation cancelled five times, was “appalling but not atypical”.

The third time the patient was in the operating theatre and about to go under anaesthesia she was sent back to the ward, said Dr Harris.

In another case an elderly patient with a hip fracture had to wait a week before being operated on.

“It is extremely unsafe for the elderly to be waiting this long,” said Dr Harris.