16,000 operations cancelled by the NHS at the last minute

13 August 2014

16,000 operations cancelled by the NHS at the last minute

Official figures have revealed that the number of operations cancelled by the NHS on the day they were supposed to go ahead has hit its highest number for nine years.

Between April and June-in a period of just three months-15,661 scheduled operations were cancelled for reasons that had nothing to do with the operation itself ranging from administrative justification and other non-medical reasons.

Labour has blamed the increase due to the excessive and rising numbers of patients who have to attend accident and emergency (A&E departments). Of those patients who had their operations cancelled at the last minute, 800 had to wait longer than a month to eventually have them rescheduled.

NHS England published the data which relates to scheduled-or elective-operations and not emergency surgery. In any case any significant delay to an operation can result in further complications if not rescheduled in a timely fashion and could complicate further surgery or exacerbate an existing condition. Examples have been experienced by members of the public who have called the specialist teams at Mistreatment.com and who have experienced further complications with existing conditions, such as hip and knee replacements for example, and which require further surgical treatment.

Waiting lists to be reduced

The range of non-medical reasons for rescheduling operations at the last minute commonly include lack of ward beds available, the lack of an available surgeon, anaesthetist or theatre staff; an emergency case needing the theatre, equipment failure, or lack of a critical care bed-although Labour’s belief that A&E figures are constantly rising can be included as an additional factor.

The news comes in the wake of figures from NHS England which showed that the number of people on NHS waiting lists now stands at 3.2 million with many having to wait for more than a year before the scheduled operation was eventually undertaken.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said through his spokesman that the waiting list had to reduced but in a responsible way and to not just prioritise simpler procedures first to bring down the numbers and that complex surgical operations also needed to be catered for.

Labour health spokesman Andy Burnham said: ‘Not only are people waiting longer for operations, increasing numbers are facing the appalling anxiety and indignity of preparing for treatment only to be let down just hours before surgery.

 ‘Hospitals are full to bursting, with record numbers in A&E, and this is threatening to drag down the rest of the NHS.’

An NHS England spokesman said: ‘NHS England believes all cancellations should be avoided wherever possible. However, the level of cancellations remains low, in the context of the millions of operations performed in the NHS each year.’

A Department of Health spokesman said: ‘The number of operations cancelled in this quarter has remained steady at less than 1 per cent of all elective admissions, despite the fact that the NHS is responding to significantly increased demand by performing more than half a million more operations now than in the same period eight years ago.

Have you or a loved one had your scheduled operation cancelled at the last minute? Had it complicated your further treatment and how long did you have to wait before the procedure finally took place? Whether you would like to make a complaint or start a medical negligence claim due to delay and medical mistreatment the specialist teams at Mistreatment.com are able to provide you with FREE advice about your patient right options.