Healthcare news

One in seven NHS operations 'cancelled or postponed'

One in seven planned NHS operations were cancelled during one week

CANCELLED operations by the NHS are running at a record high, a study has revealed.

The Royal College of Anaesthetists examined the extent of last-minute postponements in hospitals across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland over a seven-day period in March.

While no detailed breakdown was available for each region, the study found that a total of 3,724 surgeries were cancelled on the day they were due to take place across the NHS.

More than 26,000 inpatient operations were to be carried out between March 21 and March 27.

Researchers discovered that the presence of an A&E department made cancellation of surgery in that hospital five times more likely.

The Royal College noted that the overall figures equated to one in seven operations being cancelled or postponed on the day of surgery.

The data also showed that a tenth of patients undergoing planned, non-emergency operations had previously had the same operation cancelled at least once before.

Two-thirds of these cancellations were due to non-medical reasons, such as lack of beds, insufficient operating theatre capacity, staff shortages and administration errors.

Clinical reasons accounted for a third.

The findings came as NHS England data from the first quarter of 2018 revealed 25,475 instances of cancelled operations on the day they were scheduled - the highest since records began.

Dr Liam Brennan, president of the Royal College of Anaesthetists, said: "Cancelling an operation for any reason can be extremely distressing for a patient.

"...We fully support working with all relevant specialties to better understand the reasons for this widespread problem with the aim of developing an action plan to reduce clinical and non-clinical cancellations."

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