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 the day of treatment. Note that due to technical issues, NHS Lothian have been unable to provide data from October 2022 onwards. These data have also been excluded from NHSScotland totals.

Main points

  • The total number of planned operations across NHSScotland (excl. NHS Lothian) during December 2022 was 17,269. This represents a decrease of 19.1% from 21,336 in November 2022 but is 14.6% higher than the number planned in December 2021 (15,075). When compared to December 2019, prior to the pandemic, there were 17.9% fewer operations planned, down from 21,032.
Image caption Total planned operations and percentage of cancelled planned operations, by reason, up to December 2022
  • During December 2022, 10.6% of all planned operations were cancelled the day before or on the day the patient was due to be treated for NHSScotland (excl. NHS Lothian). This has increased from the previous month and remains comparable to pre-pandemic levels (10.1% in December 2019). Across NHS Boards, this percentage ranged from 5.6% to 18.4%.
  • Of all cancelled planned operations during December 2022, for NHSScotland (excl. NHS Lothian) 565 (3.3%) were cancelled by the hospital based on clinical reasons, 493 (2.9%) were cancelled by the hospital due to capacity or non-clinical reasons, 644 (3.7%) were cancelled by the patient, and 123 (0.7%) were cancelled due to other reasons. The rate of planned operations cancelled by the patient has been on an upward trend since March 2021 and has risen to 3.7% from 2.8% during November 2022.


These statistics are released monthly. Data for this publication are submitted from NHS board theatre systems. Further information on the reasons for cancellation can be found on the Cancelled Planned Operations section of our website.

These statistics continue to be affected by COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. On 30 April 2022, NHSScotland was stood down from emergency footing, however COVID-19 is still affecting provision and availability of services with waves of infection resulting in reduced capacity, for example due to increased staff absence and higher demand from emergency departments and inpatient wards. During these periods there is often a requirement to prioritise and treat only those patients with the most urgent clinical needs.

Further information

The next release of this publication will be 7 March 2023.

NHS Performs

A selection of information from this publication is included in NHS Performs. NHS Performs is a website that brings together a range of information on how hospitals and NHS Boards within NHSScotland are performing.

General enquiries

If you have an enquiry relating to this publication, please contact phs.waitingtimes@phs.scot.

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Older versions of this publication

Versions of this publication released before 16 March 2020 may be found on the Data and Intelligence, Health Protection Scotland or Improving Health websites.

Last updated: 30 January 2023
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