A trust 'named and shamed' as failing to meet outpatient waiting targets was last week forced on to 'red alert' as it cancelled 40 elective operations.

The troubled Plymouth Hospitals trust - where fiddled waiting list figures sparked the departure of the chief executive and director of operations earlier this year - was named by the government in August as one of seven responsible for a quarter of the rise in outpatient waiting lists.

Acting director of operations John Yarnold said the trust was forced to cancel operations after 'a sudden surge of 20 per cent in emergency admissions'.

This was combined with a high case-mix of elective patients, with many not fit enough to be discharged.

Mr Yarnold said: 'When you are working at 90 per cent capacity most of the time you can easily get caught out.' But he added: 'We're still only two adrift of the total elective target for this week.'

The red alert was lifted after two days.