Three ops a day cancelled in Lothians as hospitals struggle to cope

Three operations are cancelled a day in Edinburgh. Photo by Jayne Wright.
Three operations are cancelled a day in Edinburgh. Photo by Jayne Wright.
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ALMOST 1200 operations were cancelled in Lothian last year because hospitals could not cope.

That’s an average of more than three surgery sessions every day called off for “capacity or non-clinical reasons”.

Patients who were due to have operations found them postponed because of the unavailability of beds, staff or equipment or due to employee illness, dirty equipment or theatre sessions 

Edinburgh Southern Labour MSP Daniel Johnson said the figures backed up NHS staff concerns about growing pressures.

And he claimed the long-term solution is to invest in social care to take pressure off hospital resources.

Mr Johnson said: “Every single day NHS staff tell us that they are under pressure and under-resourced. Now we see that well over 1000 planned operations were cancelled last year because hospitals across Lothian did not have the capacity to cope.

“A decade of SNP mismanagement of our NHS means that patients are being let down because hospitals are not getting the support they need.

“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.

“The way to take the pressure off of our hospitals is to properly invest in social care.”

But he said the Scottish Government budget for 2017/18 meant more local government cuts on top of £1.5 billion cut by the SNP since 2011.

Labour would use the powers of the parliament to stop the cuts and invest instead, he added.

Jacquie Campbell, Interim Chief Officer, NHS Lothian said: “We apologise to anyone who has had their operation rescheduled. We know that it can cause inconvenience and distress for patients, and that is why it is a decision that is never taken lightly.

“There are unavoidable circumstances which mean operations have to be rescheduled, including emergency admissions, which obviously have to receive priority, be treated quickly, and cannot be planned for. We also have a high number of operations cancelled by patients, and we are working to improve our communications and processes to try and reduce this figure.”

Health Secretary Shona Robison said the government was working with health boards to manage capacity and planning in order to keep cancellations to a minimum.

“We have made it clear to boards that patients with the greatest clinical need, such as cancer patients, should not have their operations cancelled.

“In the Lothians over 55,400 operations were carried out last year, an average of 152 operations per day.

Health boards continue to work to ensure disruption to patients is always kept to an absolute minimum, and any postponed procedures will be rescheduled at the earliest opportunity.”