Calls for more resources as 21 ops cancelled daily by hospitals

More than 20 operations a day are cancelled in Scottish hospitals. Picture: Getty Images/Wavebreak Media
More than 20 operations a day are cancelled in Scottish hospitals. Picture: Getty Images/Wavebreak Media
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More than 20 patients had vital operations cancelled every day last year due to shortages of beds and staff, prompting concern over rising pressures on the health service.

New analysis revealed that 7,096 pre-planned procedures were cut at the last minute by Scots hospitals in 2016.

Opponents said hospitals were “under pressure and under-resourced” and called for the Scottish Government to commit to long-term investment in social care to ease the pressure.

It comes after a damning report from the public spending watchdog Audit Scotland found efforts to reform the NHS are being hampered by soaring costs, staffing pressures and unprecedented savings targets.

Labour health spokesman Anas Sarwar, who obtained the data, said: “These figures are the clearest indication yet that our NHS is struggling to cope under pressure and isn’t getting the resources it needs from the SNP government.

“NHS staff are performing as best they can under difficult circumstances, but the lack of support from the SNP government makes their job even harder.

“It’s no wonder than only one third of NHS staff think they have enough colleagues to do their job properly.”

Cancelling operations is usually a last resort for NHS chiefs, as the practice is unpopular with doctors and patients.

Professor Derek Bell, president of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, said: “Recent reports, all looking at different aspects of the NHS in different parts of the UK, have a common vein running through them – the NHS is under pressure from our ageing population, financial constraints, and significant workforce challenges, all of which combine to exacerbate pressures on the NHS as a whole as well as the workforce that holds the system together.

“As we move towards the vital yet ambitious integration of health and social care, long-term and detailed workforce planning is vital to ensure we have a world-class clinical workforce to provide the new models of care necessary for integration to succeed.”

Health secretary Shona Robison said: “Scotland’s NHS successfully carries out nearly 900 operations every day. Decisions to cancel planned operations are never taken lightly and we are always working with health boards to make sure we manage capacity and planning in order to keep all cancellations to a minimum. Over the last few months, the percentage of operations cancelled for capacity or non-clinical reasons remained stable – a very small percentage of the overall number of scheduled procedures taking place.”