TWENTY-FOUR operations at Oxford’s Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre had to be postponed after sterilisation equipment used to clean surgical instruments broke down.

Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust called off the non-emergency operations at the centre in Windmill Road, Headington, after a pump driving the sterilisation unit became blocked on Monday.

One pensioner from South Oxfordshire, whose wife’s operation was postponed, said: “I was told in a phone call that the sterilisation plant was not working, so they could not clean all the equipment from the operating theatres.

“I think this is extraordinary because no one seems to have a plan B.”

Sara Randall, deputy director of clinical services at the trust, said: “A small number of non-emergency, planned operations due to take place at the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre this week had to be postponed.

“This delay occurred due to a broken filter in a machine used to sterilise operating instruments in theatres, which has now been replaced.

“During this time we worked closely with our theatre departments at our other hospital sites to ensure the sterilisation of equipment.

“This allowed all theatres at the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre to remain open and certain operations, based on clinical priority, were able to take place.

“Between Monday and Wednesday, 24 patients were contacted by telephone to inform them that their operations were being postponed.

“Due to the complex nature of these operations they were unable to be performed at any of our other hospital sites.”

The trust apologised to those patients affected and said it hoped to arrange operation dates before the end of April.

The orthopaedic centre treats patients for bone and joint problems.

Ms Randall said five of the 24 patients found out their operations were being postponed after arriving at the hospital on Monday.

The hospital has said how many operations in total were schedueld over the three days.