About this release
This release by Public Health Scotland (PHS) provides a monthly update on the number of operations in NHSScotland that were cancelled the day before, or on the day the patient was due to be treated. Information on the reasons for cancellations are also included.
- The total number of planned operations across NHSScotland during April 2021 was 18,630, an increase of 4.9% from 17,755 in March 2021, but a decrease of 32.6% from 27,645 in February 2020, the last month before COVID-19 began to have a significant impact on services.
- In April 2021, 1,141 operations, or 6.1% of all planned operations, were cancelled the day before or on the day the patient was due to be treated. This compares to 1,111 (6.3%) in March 2021 and 2,481 (9.0%) in February 2020. At NHS Board level, this percentage ranged from 2.7% to 8.2%.
- Of all planned operations during April 2021, 518 (2.8%) were cancelled by the hospital based on clinical reasons, 252 (1.4%) were cancelled by the hospital due to capacity or non-clinical reasons, 319 (1.7%) were cancelled by the patient and 52 (0.3%) were cancelled due to other reasons.
These statistics are released monthly. Data for this publication are submitted from NHS Board theatre systems.
The following definitions are used for the cancellation reason groupings:
- Cancellation based on clinical reason by hospital includes 'patient unwell', 'patient not prepared for procedure correctly by hospital' and 'patient did not follow pre op instruction'.
- Cancellation based on capacity or non-clinical reason by hospital includes 'no beds available', 'staff not available', 'equipment not available' and 'theatre session overran'.
- Cancellation by patient includes 'patient decides not to go ahead with procedure', 'patient unable to attend', 'patient did not attend' and 'patient did not attend pre-op'.
- Other includes 'fire alarm prevents operation from taking place', 'weather prevented patient / staff travelling' and 'patient transport did not arrive in time to bring patient to hospital'.
These statistics continue to be affected by the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. During the early stage of the outbreak, many operations were cancelled well ahead of their planned date, particularly if related to non-urgent elective treatment. Boards started to resume relevant services, from June 2020 but a second wave of cases emerged in the autumn and as the number of hospitalisations escalated during the winter months some Boards temporarily paused non-urgent elective care again.
Data from this publication is available to download from the data files section at the top of this page. Open data is available from the Scottish Health and Social Care Open Data platform (external website).
For more information on cancelled planned operations see the cancelled planned operations section of the Data and Intelligence website (external website). For related topics, please see the waiting times pages on the Data and Intelligence website (external website).
The next release of this publication will be July 2021.
A selection of information from this publication is included in NHS Performs (external website). NHS Performs is a website that brings together a range of information on how hospitals and NHS Boards within NHSScotland are performing.
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