HOSPITAL bosses have been forced to apologise for distress caused to patients after suspending all operations at its specialist heart unit.

Basildon Hospital confirmed at the end of last week that all operations were suspended for four days due to some of the equipment being in need of urgent replacement.

The hospital is currently expanding the Essex Cardiothoracic Centre, and reviewed all equipment in the centre as part of the expansion.

During the review, it was found that some items were in need of urgent replacement and were sent to a specialised instrument supplier for refurbishment.

The hospital acknowledged delaying operations can have a negative effect on patients, but insisted that all operations would be rebooked as soon as possible.

Any surgeries which were deemed urgent, saw patients transferred to St Bartholomew’s Hospital, in London.

Patients who had operations suspended, have reported receiving a letter stating they will be contacted within 14 days.

A hospital spokesman said: “We recognise the distress that can be caused when a patient’s planned operation has to be rescheduled.

“We know that the delay could mean that their condition may deteriorate and we do everything to avoid this.

“All inpatients for whom surgery has been delayed are being reviewed daily by a consultant surgeon.

“As a precaution, any patients that medical staff think should be operated on urgently are being transferred to Barts Hospital.

“We are also working in collaboration with neighbouring CTCs and they have agreed to take our new surgical referrals if required.

“We have not taken this decision lightly and once again sincerely apologise to our patients and their families. We are reviewing the situation daily and will confirm when a normal surgical programme is in place and any elective cases delayed will be rebooked as soon as possible.”