1 in 10 Scottish operations cancelled in a month

Scots patients are facing disruptions to care as new figures revealed that one in ten pre-planned operations were cancelled in one month.

Scots patients are facing disruptions to care as new figures revealed that one in ten pre-planned operations were cancelled in one month.

Official statistics laid bare the strain on stretched resources as 18 operations were cancelled per day in November due to lack of capacity, such as beds or staff.

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Politicians branded the figures “concerning” and called for more investment in social care to prevent bed blocking – where people cannot be discharged due to lack of support.

The number of cancelled procedures has risen over recent months with 3,064 surgeries cut in November compared to 2,643 in May.

A total of 540 were cancelled by the hospital due to “capacity or non-clinical reasons”, a slight fall from 549 the month before but up from 479 in May. Patients were responsible for more than a third of cancelled elective procedures.

Cancelling operations is usually a last resort for hospital bosses as it can have burden both doctors and patients.

Liberal Democrat health spokesman Jim Hume MSP said: “There can be good reasons why an operation is cancelled or postponed but if this is because of a lack of capacity or a non-clinical reason it is clearly concerning.”

He praised boards such as NHS Highland for making progress in reducing non-clinical cancellations but insisted the figure was still too high.

Mr Hume added: “Patients should not be forced to wait longer for operations as they should receive the care they need as quickly as possible.”

Performance differed across health boards, with the highest number of overall cancellations logged by NHS Lothian at 13.1 per cent compared to 2.5 per cent at NHS Shetland.

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Hospital bosses in Glasgow cancelled 115 operations due to lack of beds or other clinical reasons while NHS Tayside cancelled 25.

Dr Richard Simpson, for Labour, said the NHS needed to move away from “short-term crisis management” and ease the strain on hospitals.

He said: “Scottish Labour would invest in social care to take the pressure off our hospitals, allowing more people to get the care they need in their homes and freeing up space and resources in our hospitals. That starts with a living wage for care workers.

“It’s time we moved away from short-term crisis management in our NHS to investing for the long term, building a health service fit for the challenges of the 2040s, not the 1940s.”

The percentage of operations cancelled due to lack of beds has remained broadly stable despite rising numbers of procedures, said health secretary Shona Robison.

She said: “We are always working with health boards to make sure we keep cancellations to a minimum.

“However, on occasion, planned operations may need rescheduled and these decisions are never taken lightly. Any postponed procedures will be rescheduled at the earliest opportunity.”