Lancashire Teaching Hospitals has begun rescheduling postponed ‘non-urgent’ operations.
Hospital bosses made the decision to cancel all elective surgery last week after saying they had been inundated by an ‘unprecedented’ and ‘extraordinary’ level of attendances.
Health chiefs came under criticism after Royal Preston Hospital and Chorley and South Ribble Hospital postponed around 100 procedures in total.
The NHS foundation trust admitted this included a small number of cancer patients and chief executive Karen Partington apologised to those affected.
But Lancashire Teaching Hospitals said the situation started improving on Thursday, when they began re-booking appointments.
A spokesman for the trust said arranging appropriate patient discharge and additional GP out of hours support meant it had been able to increase its critical care capacity and improve patient flow.
She said the trust was still very busy and the situation was being monitored.
One patient affected last week, who did not wish to be named, said his back surgery had been postponed three times. He said: “I have had my back op cancelled three times,and been given different reasons as to why.
“The first was December 19 when I was informed it was due to a surge in trauma cases.
“The second was for January 9. I was left a message to contact the hospital on December 24 and was told it was due to the consultants’ list being to big and that the management were having a meeting to try and reduce it.
“The third time was for Wednesday, March 6. I was informed by telephone at Tuesday lunchtime. This was due to the bed crisis.
“I feel let down by the system that I have paid into for 40 plus years and find myself asking the question, how many of the consultants employed at this hospital who also work at private hospitals have cancelled private patients to reduce their NHS waiting lists?
“The answer would seem quite clear – zero.”
Councillors and MPs claimed a lack of beds due to ward closures and mismanagement was the root of the problem, not winter pressures, while unions said NHS cuts were to blame. Meanwhile a whistleblowing manager at the trust said it was a ‘staffing issue’ and there had been beds free “all over the hospital”.