New figures have revealed that up to 170 operations are cancelled at the last minute each day in the UK, as NHS hospitals struggle to cope with bed shortages, faulty equipment and a lack of staff.
NHS England released the figures, which showed that a total of 30,415 elective operations were cancelled between the months of April and September this year, marking a 12-year high. The vast majority of surgeries were shelved either on the day itself, or on the day that the patient was due to arrive at the hospital in preparation for the operation. The current average daily rate of cancellations is 169 – a higher figure than for the same period in any year since 2001.
The reasons behind the high figures were given as a chronic shortage of beds, administrative errors and emergency surgeries taking priority over scheduled ones. NHS trusts struggling to run busy Accident and Emergency departments while carrying out operations was also listed as a key reason behind the shocking figures.
Bed occupancy rates of over 95 per cent were recorded at one in five hospitals across the country, while several NHS trusts were operating at 100 per cent capacity, the figures showed.
In light of the figures, NHS medical director, Sir Bruce Keogh, has called for a two-tier A&E to be created in order to ease pressure on “an emergency service at its limit.”