OPERATIONS have been cancelled at south Essex’s cardiothoracic centre for the second time this year - after surgical equipment was found to be faulty.

The Essex Cardiothoracic Centre, Basildon Hospital’s specialist heart centre, cancelled operations for two days earlier this month while the equipment was sent for repair after faults were found on a routine daily inspection. The centre would normally deal with about 28 operations in that time.

The unit also shut its operations down for four days in May, over faulty equipment.

Patients at Southend’s cardiac care unit, have had their ops put on hold or offered the chance of being transferred to St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London.

A patient waiting for surgery, who asked not to be identified said: “There is a backlog of people waiting for operations and some are getting a bit hot under the collar. The care here is second to none so I’m not complaining but the wait gets you down a bit. I heard there was a problem at Basildon but hopefully it will be ironed out soon. The staff here have coped with very well with the problem that’s out of their hands. I think they are doing all they can.” A spokesperson for the cardiothoracic unit confirmed some of the surgical instruments were identified as being in need of refurbishment. She said: “It needed to go to a highly specialised instrument supplier for urgent processing. For this reason, we had to regrettably suspend planned cardiothoracic surgery for two days.

“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. However each case was reviewed daily by a consultant to ensure it was safe to postpone the surgery and contingency plans put in place if we then needed to transfer the patients care on clinical grounds.

“Operations have now resumed and we are working rapidly to restore a full service.”

Earlier this month the centre revealed plans to treat patients from outside the county, from Suffolk, Norfolk and Kent.