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NHS cancels 7740 operations due to lack of resources

Reasons include a lack of beds and dirty equipment in operation theatres.

Cancelled: Thousands of patients had their operations cancelled for non-clinical reasons.
Cancelled: Thousands of patients had their operations cancelled for non-clinical reasons.

NHS Scotland cancelled almost 8000 operations last year due to a lack of resources, new figures show.

A total of 7740 planned operations had to be cancelled in 2016 due to "non-clinical" reasons, such as a lack of available beds and staff or dirty equipment.

The lack of resources led to operations being cancelled for 868 patients in January, the worst month of the year for cancellations.

However, last year most operations were cancelled by patients themselves.

NHS Scotland began publishing the data in May 2015.

From May to December 2016, non-clinical cancellations increased by 25.94% when compared to the same period in the previous year.

Scottish Labour health spokesman Anas Sarwar said: "Every single day NHS staff tell us that they are under pressure and under-resourced. Now we see that close to 8000 planned operations were cancelled last year because hospitals 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."

Health Secretary Shona Robison said: "Decisions to cancel planned operations are never taken lightly and we are working with health boards to make sure we manage capacity and planning in order to keep all 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.

"Of the 27,153 planned operations scheduled for December, 644 operations (or 2.4%) were postponed for non-clinical or capacity reasons. The highest rates of cancellations continue to be for clinical reasons or those cancelled by the patient. On average there are 900 operations per day and over 320,00 carried out in the last year.

"Since we started publishing this data from May 2015 we have seen the number of cancelled operations remain relatively stable, with understandable fluctuation over the winter months when additional demands are put on our health service. 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."

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