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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 December 2005, 16:40 GMT
Surgeon told to make people wait
A surgeon has been told by managers to make patients wait for some operations.

Alastair Paterson, a consultant at the Royal Cornwall Hospital's breast care centre in Truro, has also been carrying out routine surgery, such as hernias.

The North and East Cornwall Primary Care Trust (PCT) said it could not pay for non-urgent cases, and was ensuring patients were treated to meet targets.

Mr Paterson was told to develop a waiting list, but said he will not be bullied into it.

Mr Paterson, who has been a surgeon for 17 years, said he ran a diary system which meant seeing and speaking to the patient and making a date for their operation. He has never had a waiting list.

Once you allow a waiting list to develop, you are in trouble
Alastair Paterson

He said: "I see this as being efficient and also kind to my patients. Once you allow a waiting list to develop, you are in trouble.

"I am not going to build up a waiting list now, I do not see the point - the problem will be there next year, and will be pushed further and further on.

"I will not be bullied into changing my practice, and I have let them know that."

The consultant said he was told by Graham Wallis, the trust's chief executive, that it was only able to fund patients who were classed as clinically urgent and could not fund activity where patients were brought in ahead of time.

Insufficient funds

Dan Rogerson, MP for North Cornwall, said: "It is an outrage that a surgeon who is performing his operations quickly and efficiently is being criticised.

"Of course there are more urgent operations than on hernias and gall-bladders, but these patients still need to be seen as soon as possible."

A PCT statement said: "It is the PCT's responsibility to allocate resources as fairly and equally as possible for the whole population.

"Whilst we would wish to treat everyone immediately we do not have enough money to do so. However we are not cancelling any operations and are ensuring that our patients receive treatment in line with national waiting time targets."

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