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578 operations cancelled by hospitals due to lack of beds, staff or equipment

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The number of hospital operations cancelled in Scotland due to factors including a lack of beds, staff and equipment rose in May.

Official figures show there were 31,213 scheduled operations across NHS Scotland during the month, of which 2,845 were cancelled either by the patient or the hospital.

The overall cancellation rate of 9.1% was down from 9.4% in April , but 578 (1.9%) operations were cancelled by the hospital due to “capacity or non-clinical reasons”, up from 467 (1.6%) the month before.

Reasons can include the unavailability of beds, staff and equipment as well as employee illness, dirty equipment and theatre sessions overrunning.

Public Health Minister Aileen Campbell said: “The number of operations cancelled for non-clinical reasons remains a very small percentage of the overall number of scheduled procedures taking place in the NHS in Scotland.

“However, decisions to cancel planned operations are never taken lightly and we are always working with health boards to make sure we manage capacity and planning, to keep all cancellations to a minimum.

“Over the past year we have seen the number of cancelled operations remain relatively stable, with fluctuation over the winter months when additional demands are put on our health service.

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

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

Scottish Labour’s health spokesman Anas Sarwar said: “The SNP Government must not allow themselves to be so distracted by the fallout from the EU referendum that they take their eyes off of the day to day running of our NHS.

“This increase in cancelled operations, because our NHS can’t cope, must act as a wake-up call that SNP ministers can’t forget about the day job.

“Under the SNP only a third of our NHS staff believe there are enough of them to do their jobs properly. Patients are losing out because of the SNP Government overworking and undervaluing those who work in our health service.

“For nearly a decade now the SNP have taken a crisis management approach to our NHS. What we need is investment and a plan for the long term, as the representatives of doctors and nurses have been calling for. Their calls cannot go ignored for much longer.”

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