500 operations cancelled due to ‘non-clinical’ reasons

Operations can be cancelled for a variety of reasons. Picture: John Devlin
Operations can be cancelled for a variety of reasons. Picture: John Devlin
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The scale of the challenge facing incoming Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has outlined in new data revealing missed waiting times, a rise in bed-blocking and cancelled operations.

Figures published by the NHS Statistics Services Division showed that A&E waiting-times targets had been missed for the ninth month in a row.

They also disclosed that bed-blocking in Scottish hospitals has risen 8 per cent in a year.

Scotland also saw almost 500 operations cancelled in May because of a lack of hospital capacity or non-clinical reasons. The Scottish Government has set targets for 95 per cent of patients admitted to accident and emergency to be transferred or discharged within four hours.

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Tuesday’s statistics showed showed 93.1 per cent of the 153,090 attendances at A&E services in Scotland in May met that deadline.

That was up from 90 per cent the previous month but slightly below the 94 per cent recorded in May 2017. A total of 110 patients (0.1 per cent) spent more than 12 hours at A&E while 662 (0.1 per cent) were there for more than eight hours.

The data showed that the 95 per cent target was last met in August last year meaning that it had been missed for nine consecutive months.

Over the last year Scotland has also seen a rise in bed-blocking with a total of 1,390 patients subjected to delayed discharge in May this year.

That was up 8 per cent on the 1,286 delayed in the same month the previous year.

Delayed discharge, also known as bed-blocking, happens when a patient is medically fit to leave hospital but arrangements have not been put in place to enable them to go home. Of those delayed in May 2018, the majority – 1,152 – were delayed for more than three days.

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In all 489 operations were cancelled by hospitals due to capacity or non-clinical reasons during the month, an average of almost 16 a day.

The figure represented 1.6 per cent of the total 31,208 planned operations across NHS Scotland during the month and was an improvement from 587 cancelled in April and the 1,200 or so experienced in each of January and March this year.

Scottish Labour health spokesman Anas Sarwar claimed the Scottish Government had left the NHS “overworked, understaffed and under-resourced.

Mr Freeman said Ms Freeman said the situation on waiting times had improved since the previous month.