Health News

One in seven NHS operations are cancelled on the DAY of the surgery

One in seven NHS operations are cancelled on the DAY of the surgery

One in seven NHS operations are cancelled on the DAY of the surgery

  • Includes both emergency and planned heart operations and cancer surgeries
  • In half of cases, the patient is given no reason for their surgery being cancelled
  • A lack of beds, staff and hospital equipment can sometimes be to blame
  • e-mail



One in seven NHS operations are cancelled on the day of surgery, new research suggests.

Both emergency and planned procedures for everything from heart and cancer surgeries to abdominal operations and joint replacements are being cancelled or postponed on the day they are scheduled to be carried out, a study found.

In half of cases, no reason is given for the cancellation, while in others a lack of beds, staff and hospital equipment are to blame, the research adds.

Study author Professor Ramani Moonesinghe, from University College London, claims last-minute cancellations are affecting the ‘health and welfare of tens of thousands of patients every year’.

This comes after figures released in May showed 24,475 NHS operations were cancelled last minute between January and March this year in England – the highest level since records began in 1994.

One in seven NHS operations are cancelled on the day of surgery, research suggests (stock)

The researchers analysed more than 26,000 cases in 245 hospitals over a week in March 2017.

These procedures were made up of both emergency and planned surgeries that required the patient to stay in hospital.

In up to a third of cases, the procedure was cancelled due to the patient not being healthy enough to go under the knife. 

Of the 15,000 cases scheduled for planned operations, 10 per cent had previously had the same surgery postponed, according to the results, which were published in the British Journal of Anaesthesia. 

  • The kiss of death: 11-day-old baby nearly died after… Leading British surgeon whose hands were slowly being… Eating probiotic yoghurt may be pointless as half of us are… Man, 68, who drinks 15 PINTS a day is forced to have a…

Share this article

Professor Cliff Shearman, from the Royal College of Surgeons, said: ‘It is important to underline that cancelling and rescheduling an operation is not only stressful for patients, but a complete waste of hospital resources.

‘It is awful for a patient to have their operation cancelled twice.’


Waiting times at over-stretched A&E units are at their worst level since records began, according to official figures in April 2018.

Experts said the NHS was in the grip of an ‘eternal winter’ and many hospitals are still struggling to cope with the unprecedented pressure. 

Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt was forced to admit it was the ‘worst winter ever’ amid a severe outbreak of flu and cold weather.

Chiefs cancelled thousands of operations in a controversial move to ease pressure. And experts have suggested this may be the only option to stop a crisis next year. 

The latest monthly data from NHS England also shows that waiting times for routine operations, such as knee and hip replacements, are at their highest since 2004.  

And violent assaults on staff have risen by 10 per cent in a year – partly driven by frustration with waiting times. 

The researchers acknowledge cancellation rates may be lower in quieter periods of the year, with Professor Moonesinghe adding planned procedures should be carried out during the less busy summer months.  

According to NHS bosses, minor treatments and operations where the patient goes home on the same day have significantly lower cancellation rates.

An NHS England spokesperson said: ‘This report provides only a selective, limited snapshot of surgery in England, where the NHS is funding more routine operations and more people are undergoing treatment than the year before.’ 

A spokesperson from the Welsh government noted that when a operation is postponed, another procedure is usually carried out in its place rather than the surgery slot being lost. 

Speaking of the cancellation figures released last May, the Royal College of Surgeons branded such statistics ‘unacceptable’, adding that scrapped operations have left thousands in agony. 

Unprecedented winter pressures in overcrowded A&E units, which were described as being like war zones, had a knock-on effect on spiraling waiting times.

As of May, nearly 3,000 patients endured waits for health service treatment of more than 12 months – the highest in six years, according to NHS England data.

Health chiefs argued the NHS was in ‘recovery mode’, after being crippled by an ‘eternal winter’. 

Source: Read Full Article