98% of surgery carried out as planned despite increased demand

NHS England no figures since December 2019

Anecdotal evidence features regularly in our media suggesting a crisis, with operations being cancelled frequently, yet the data says otherwise. From Public Health Scotland, three days ago:

The total number of planned operations across NHS Scotland during August 2021 was 20,490. This represents an increase of 6.4% from 19,253 in July 2021 and is 48.1% higher than August 2020, when services were gradually resuming for non-urgent care.

Of all planned operations during August 2021, 629 (3.1%) were cancelled by the hospital based on clinical reasons, 496 (2.4%) were cancelled by the hospital due to capacity or non-clinical reasons, 498 (2.4%) were cancelled by the patient and 77 (0.4%) were cancelled due to other reasons.


So, 3.1% were cancelled by medics in the interests of the patient, 2.4% were cancelled by the patient themselves and only 2.4% were cancelled because a theatre or a surgeon was not available. Only the latter can be considered a failure in the system.

Therefore 97.6% of all planned surgery went ahead as planned despite increased demand. Is there a 95% target? If so, it was bust.

Good news?

And in England?

Leading surgeons, an arthritis charity and a patients’ watchdog have urged the NHS to tell the public how many operations are being cancelled as ministers admitted that “no recent estimate” was available.

NHS England paused the collection of hospital statistics on cancelled surgery at the beginning of the pandemic. The aim was to reduce the bureaucratic burden so that trusts could focus on reorganising services as the number of coronavirus patients rapidly increased.

No figures have been published since those for October to December 2019. 


5 thoughts on “98% of surgery carried out as planned despite increased demand

  1. It looks as if BBC Scotland has been found out once again!

    On 5 October btl of the TuS post entitled ‘NHS Scotland’s super-efficient surgery machine’ I asked if anyone else had heard on Reporting Scotland that evening the piece from BBC Scotland’s health correspondent. Had she really just referred to ‘thousands of cancelled operations’. No one offered confirmation.

    Today’s TuS blog again reveals the performance of NHS Scotland regarding surgery. It shows up a mismatch between reports. This can now be demonstrated not by recollections of an RP presentation but by an article on the BBC News website under the name of the same health correspondent and dated 5 October. Here is the source and the key section:

    ‘Analysis’: Posted at 15:20 5 Oct 15:20 5 Oct by Lisa Summers, BBC Scotland Health Correspondent

    ‘THOUSANDS of operations are being cancelled as nursing staff are moved around to look after Covid patients, or take time off for isolation or sickness. (my emphasis)

    ‘The latest performance figures only tell us what was happening as far as August, the data for next September is likely to be worse as hospitals started to see the effects of the summer surge in cases.’

    (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-58801210 )

    Can TuS and BBC Scotland both be right? And if not, whose interpretation of the evidence to trust – TuS or BBC Scotland? I know whose – and it’s not the one whose interpretation gets communicated via primetime TV by a supposed public service broadcaster!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Sadly this has not been my experience. I was diagnosed with an eye problem that required an operation in April 2020. I waited 16 months until I was finally scheduled for 16 August 2021 at Gartnavel.

    Got a call five days before this postponing it until 30 August. Got a call a five days before this postponing it until 13 September. Got as far as the 72 hour Covid test this time then got a call later that day telling me that it was cancelled with no new date given. They said that due to Covid all non-emergency surgery was cancelled.

    Just heard from a friend whose 5 year old was due to have a minor op today. They had to pitch up at 07.30, which they did. The child was prepared for the op then it was cancelled just before it was due to happen.

    I’m afraid that I cannot subscribe to this notion that there are no serious problems with surgical waiting lists and problems.


  3. ThePaleAle
    I cordially request that you temporarily relocate to England
    And register with EHNS
    And no doubt you are most welcome back to Scotland, once your medical requirements are met
    But me thinks Haste Ye Back
    Although desirable such will certainly end up
    Not being Hasty as you are at the back of a exceedingly long winding queue that may actually not be reduced by much for at least 5 yrs

    Liked by 2 people

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