OPERATIONS are being cancelled across Hampshire as the NHS struggles to cope with winter pressures.

Senior managers say they are following advice from the NHS nationally to cut back on non-urgent procedures to help them cope with the spike in people seeking emergency care.

Operations are being cancelled in Winchester and Southampton may follow this month, its top manager said today.

Alex Whitfield, chief executive of Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the Royal Hampshire County Hospital, in Winchester, and others in Andover and Basingstoke, said: “Like many trusts across the country at the moment, our hospitals continue to be very busy, with lots of people requiring treatment from our hard-working staff.

“To help us deal with the pressures we are currently facing, and in line with the recommendations issued by NHS England, we have postponed many non-urgent operations and outpatient appointments until further notice. This is not a decision we have taken lightly and these will be rescheduled as soon as possible."

A spokesman said the decision was only taken this afternoon (WED) and it was too early to put numbers of the cancellations.

Ms Whitfield added: “All patients affected by this will be notified in advance of their appointments, so if you have not been contacted, please attend as usual. I’d like to apologise for the inconvenience that this will cause.

“We are working closely with our partners at Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, Hampshire County Council, North Hampshire Clinical Commissioning Group and West Hampshire Clinical Commissioning Group to help ensure that patients are able to leave hospital as soon as they are well enough to do so, which allows us to admit patients from our emergency departments.

“Despite all of these measures, we expect that our services will remain under considerable pressure for some time. I’d ask people to help us by only using our emergency departments when strictly necessary. If you are unsure which NHS service you require, call 111 for advice.”

Caroline Marshall, chief operating officer at Southampton General Hospital , said: "As has been widely reported, large numbers of NHS hospitals are currently facing significant challenges as a result of a combination of winter pressures.

"Although staff are working extremely hard to ensure we operate as effectively as possible during this period, some non-urgent operations and outpatient clinics may be cancelled over the course of the month to manage demand safely.

"Any patients affected by cancellations will be contacted directly to inform them of any changes to their scheduled procedures or appointments, otherwise they should attend as planned."